The Stein Monogastric Nutrition lab at the University of Illinois has produced a brochure intended to help producers make the transition to raising pigs without antimicrobial growth promoters (AGPs). The brochure describes a number of strategies for promoting growth, reducing disease exposure, and increasing resistance to disease among weanling pigs. Some of these strategies include:

  • Weaning practices: Segregated early weaning and all-in-all-out production reduce disease pressure.
  • Environmental controls: Keeping facilities at the proper temperature and avoiding crowding reduce stress on pigs, while pest control reduces pathogen exposure.
  • Feeding pelleted or liquid diets: Pelleted and liquid diets enhance energy and nutrient digestibility and improve performance.
  • Restricted feeding: Feeding small amounts several times per day instead of giving ad libitum access to feed means that less undigested feed is fermented in the hindgut, which reduces the incidence of diarrhea.
  • Feeding alternative cereal grains: Hindgut fermentation of specific fibers present in barley, naked oats and oats may reduce pathogens and increase the concentration of favorable microbes.
  • Feed additives: Acidifiers, functional proteins, probiotics, prebiotics, copper, zinc and mannan oligosaccharides may improve pig health and growth performance.
  • Low protein diets: Reducing the amount of undigested protein that reaches the hindgut reduces microbial fermentation and diarrhea.

Some of these strategies will increase diet costs and thus reduce profitability. But following these guidelines will allow producers to manage weanling pigs without the use of AGPs with no loss of performance.

The brochure, "Strategies for managing weanling pigs fed no antibiotic growth promoters," can be downloaded from Hans Stein’s website at http://nutrition.ansci.illinois.edu/SwineFocus003. Hard copies can also be requested from University of Illinois Extension offices.