[ASC-media] Beneficial bacteria help keep pigs healthy
joanne.finlay at dpi.nsw.gov.au
joanne.finlay at dpi.nsw.gov.au
Mon Oct 30 02:52:03 CET 2006
NSW Department of Primary Industries
30 October 2006
BENEFICIAL BACTERIA HELP KEEP PIGS HEALTHY
An innovative alternative to using antibiotics in piggeries is being
trialled by scientists from the Elizabeth Macarthur Agriculture Institute
Probiotics, used in humans to promote gut health, are being fed to
intensively reared pigs to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in
the intestine, and prime the immune system.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) immunologist, Dr James Chin
says that the use of probiotics in piggeries could help keep pigs healthy
and reduce the reliance of the industry on in-feed antibiotic growth
In humans, the most commonly used probiotics belong to the lactic acid
bacteria family and include acidophilus and bifidobacteria, frequently
found as supplements in live-culture yogurts.
Dr Chin said the time immediately after birth, and during weaning are two
of the most critical stages in a pigs' life.
"A new born piglet, like a human baby, has almost no immunity, and its
gastro-intestinal tract is like a vacuum-cleaner, capable of sucking in
and being colonized by micro-organisms from their food and the
"At weaning, the pigs' diet changes and they can no longer depend upon the
mothers' milk for immunity.
"At this time, they become vulnerable to infection with E. coli, a
bacterium that causes colibacillosis or diarrhoea, retarding growth and
making the pig even more susceptible to other diseases such as
Dr Chin said research trials to be undertaken at piggeries in NSW would
seek to investigate the genetic signatures of good and bad bacteria,
isolated from different parts of the pigs' intestines.
"This would provide a quick way of determining whether a piglet is healthy
or not and whether the provision of probiotics would improve gut health."
The use of probiotics to restore a better balance of beneficial bacteria
is important because these bacteria can produce substances that help fight
invading pathogenic bacteria.
Dr Chin said a new designer lactic acid bacteria probiotic developed in
collaboration with a commercial partner, International Animal Health, has
already been tested on a herd of 53 animals, and has significantly
improved weaner weight.
He said it would be valuable to find out whether a combination of
probiotics used at birth and after weaning could provide "a complete
process" for managing pig health, and reduce over-reliance on antibiotics.
A new three year research project is being funded with the help of the
Pork Cooperative Research Centre and International Animal Health.
Contact: Dr James Chin, Menangle, on 61 2 4640 6359 or james.chin at dpi.nsw.gov.au.
Science Communication Specialist
NSW DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRIES
Mobile: 0428 491813
Fax: 6391 3199
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