Researchers work to replace antibiotics with probiotics in nursery pigs

Apr 03, 2023

By Bruce Cochrane, Farmscape & Lynn Redl-Huntington

A multi-institutional team of scientists is conducting research aimed at replacing antibiotics with probiotic bacteria to combat diarrhea in nursery pigs.

In response to public concerns over antibiotic use in livestock production and the potential for antibiotic resistance, scientists with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the University of Saskatchewan, University of Manitoba, and the University of Guelph, with funding from Swine Innovation Porc, are working to develop viable alternatives to antibiotics to improve pig gut health, targeting Enterotoxigenic E. Coli infection and piglet diarrhea in nursery pigs.

Dr. Joshua Gong, a Senior Research Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, said that antibiotic resistance threatens public health and food safety.

”We are focused on probiotics and enzymes. For the probiotics research we focused on the probiotics selection, development and evaluation. We have identified bacillus isolates that have good potential to reduce pig diarrhea. If those selected probiotics can be used in the production of the piglets, that can reduce the use of antibiotics in feed and promote sustainable production of the pigs. In addition, this project has contributed to the improvement of encapsulation of heat sensitive probiotics. That technology has been adopted by a Canadian company located in Alberta,” said Dr. Joshua Gong with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Dr. Gong noted the probiotic research has generated a number of peer-reviewed publications, results have been presented at various symposiums and the information can also be used by related industries, scientific communities and regulatory agencies.

This project is part of Swine Innovation Porc’s Swine Cluster 3 (2018-2023) research program, made possible through financial support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Agricultural Partnership, eight provincial pork producer organizations, including Sask Pork, and over 30 industry partners. Sask Pork and other provincial pork producer organizations contribute 2.5 cents per market hog and .5 cents per weanling, which is used to leverage an additional $8 from other sources of fundig.

Eight projects are being carried out either partly or entirely in Saskatchewan as part of the five year Swine Cluster 3 research program that includes 14 primary R & D projects in animal health, nutrition, welfare, environment, and pork quality.

Source : Saskpork