Research Shows Microbiota Can Be Modulated to Stimulate Weight Gain and Improved Health

Apr 10, 2023

Research conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc has shown using alternative feed supplements to modulate the microbiota in the gut of the piglet can stimulate weight gain and improve health.

As part of research being conducted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in partnership with several universities with funding from Swine Innovation Porc, scientists have been the evaluating the response of the piglet microbiome to alternative feeding supplements.

Dr. Etienne Yergeau, an Associate Professor with the University of Quebec, says, based on previous studies which showed a positive effect on weight gain and resistance at weaning, scientists looked at the effect of various combinations of short and medium chain fatty acids, bovine colostrum and yeast extracts on the piglet microbiota and general health.

Clip-Dr. Etienne Yergeau-University of Quebec:

How much energy is derived from the diet is linked to the composition of the microbiota and this is one of the key effects of adding antibiotics to the piglet diet.

It changes the microbiota toward a microbiota that is favorable for weight gain so we tried to find other ways to do that without antibiotics in the diet.
We added different supplements that would mimic the effect on the microbiota and would result in a piglet that would grow faster and become heavier with these diets.

We did see some changes in the microbiota and there were also changes in the piglet weight gain so that was promising but these changes were quite small and they were not as large as our control that used antibiotic supplements.

I think it's a matter of playing with the dose and seeing if we can have a larger effect with these supplements so we can have a piglet that would be as robust and gain weight as fast as a piglet that would be fed antibiotics.

Dr. Yergeau says this study has shown the microbiota can be changed to improve weight gain and there are several other feed supplements that can be tested.

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