Progut® prevents post-weaning diarrhea in piglets

Dr. Shah Hasan, Area Sales Manager 

Hankkija FFI presented its unique hydrolized yeast product Progut® at the Gut Health in Production of Food Animals symposium held on November 4–6, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri. This is one of the leading platforms for discussing the role of good health in animal production and the essential role the gut plays in it. The latest research findings were presented on a wide range of topics, from the fundamental aspects of defining and measuring gut health to the complex and interactive roles of intestinal microbiota, intestinal epithelium, immune cells, and nutrition in modern animal production. This year, special attention was given to gut mycobiome in addition to gut microbiome.

Post-weaning diarrhea (PWD) is a major welfare problem and an economic challenge in pig production at weaning. As estimated 15–23% of piglets are affected by PWD in the EU, and post-weaning diarrhea can result in significant economic losses caused by increased mortality, decreased growth rate and costs of medication.

Picture from Rhouma et al., 2017

Many stress factors associated with the weaning period, such as removal from the sow, dietary changes, adapting to a new environment, and mixing pigs from different farms, may lead to intestinal dysfunction in pigs.

However, intestinal dysfunction can also be associated with the proliferation of enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC). ETEC is characterized by the production of enterotoxins and adhesins, both of which are prerequisites for disease development. The predominant adhesins in PWD are F4 and F18. Small intestinal adhesion and subsequent colonization by ETEC in pigs is mediated by F4 or F18 specific receptors. Therefore, the existence and function of these receptors are crucial for the susceptibility of pigs to ETEC infections.

Due to the ban on the prophylactic use of antibiotics in the European Union and many other countries, it has been necessary to identify other actions with the potential to reduce the risk of PWD. This has been compounded by the fact that the currently used medical level of ZnO will be banned in the EU in 2022. Consequently, different natural alternative ingredients have been used preventively to enhance growth and feed efficiency and to reduce PWD. Adding yeast derivatives based on Saccharomyces cerevisiae to the feed has been one of these options.

Progut®: yeast cell compounds activated by hydrolyses

Our unique hydrolysis breaks down the yeast cell wall, opening and releasing the functional molecular structures so that they can be exposed to bacterial fimbriae and immune cell receptors. The high amount of soluble sugar structures in Progut® mimics the structures in the mucus to which E. coli adhere. By offering alternative binding sites to bacteria, Progut® reduces the attachment of E. coli and other pathogens which use similar F4 receptors for intestinal adhering.

Trial design

In the study presented at the Symposium, we examined whether adding Progut® to the creep feeds of suckling and weaned piglets could prevent PWD and improve performance. Piglets from the litters of F4 fimbriae receptor positive sows (i.e., F4 receptor positive piglets) were randomly allocated to Progut® and control groups. Feeding began at two weeks of age and continued until five-week post weaning (PW). At weaning (4 weeks), the selected piglets in both groups were E. coli challenged.

Opens external link in new windowWatch a short video where Shah Hasan tells about the trial

Trial results

Fecal consistency scores (FCS) were significantly improved in Progut® fed piglets. Progut® addition to the diet also reduced the risk of diarrhea by up to 25% during the challenging period immediately after weaning.

In the challenged piglets, fecal shedding of hemolytic E. coli was significantly lower in the Progut® piglets than in the control group. At weaning, part of the piglets were group-housed, and under those conditions fewer medical treatments against PWD were needed for Progut® fed piglets during the first 3 weeks PW. The average daily gain did not differ between the treatments.

In sum, the findings demonstrated that Progut® may prevent PWD for four-week-old piglets if added to the creep feed two weeks before weaning and also used post weaning. Progut® may be an alternative to therapeutic antibiotics in relation to PWD, as it tended to reduce the number of pens medically treated with antibiotics in the group-housed piglets.