A healthy gut in young pigs promotes intake and growth, provides defense against disease pathogens and reduces the incidence of scours. To help ensure a successful starter program, Hubbard Feeds incorporates three strategies when formulating nursery diets.

Decrease gut inflammation:

Tight junctions between the cells lining the gut create important barriers to pathogens and compounds that cause intestinal damage.  If these “tight” junctions open and allow gut material to bypass the gut cells and enter the blood and lymph system the junctions are called “leaky”.  This leakage results in an inflammatory response that spreads throughout the body. With less inflammation, there is an increase in feed intake and nutrient digestibility that results in an improvement in growth rate and feed efficiency.

“One example of a low inflammatory ingredient is rolled oats”, states Dr. Stewart Galloway, Senior Swine Nutritionist with Hubbard Feeds, “This is the ingredient our grandfathers recommended and it continues to be proven as a highly digestible and gut-friendly ingredient.”  New processing technologies and Hubbard Feeds research have produced combinations of high quality protein and amino acid sources that decrease gut inflammation and stimulate feed intake.

Research shows that increased feed intake in weaned pigs improves the gut environment through increased length of intestinal villi, improved absorption of nutrients and decreased pathogen numbers.  GutCIE  a unique, all-natural lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product developed by Diamond V and Hubbard Feeds has been shown to increase feed intake and ADG by 5% the first 21 days in the nursery, resulting in heavier nursery out weights.

Another area that is addressed in Hubbard Feeds pig starters is molds and mycotoxins.  High quality ingredients, mold inhibitors, and specific ingredients that help mitigate the effects of mycotoxins all work together to lower the risk of negative performance effects from molds and their toxins.

Decrease Pathogens:

Improved nutrient digestibility means there is less remaining feed in the gut for pathogens to use as a food source. Hubbard also includes unique ingredients such as OptiRemedy, a combination of five essential oils, to decrease specific pathogens. The inclusion of GutCIE and other bacterial and yeast components have been shown to increase the growth of good bacteria in the gut, which in turn reduces the number of pathogenic bacteria.  The addition of pharmacological levels of copper chloride and zinc oxide have negative effects on the proliferation of disease-causing bacteria in the gut.  Acidifiers added to the feed help create an environment in the gut that is detrimental to pathogen growth and improves digestion and absorption of nutrients. Galloway notes that with the increased interest in nutrition programs without antibiotic feed additives, the use of natural feed ingredients to decrease gut pathogens will become more important and a greater part of research programs

Decrease Water Loss

New processing technologies have resulted in diets that have better water holding capacity in the gut.  Hubbard Feed swine nutritionists Jamie Pietig says that formulation strategies that address water retention in the gut have proven quite successful with the producers he works with.  Pietig says “feed intake and stool condition are visual reminders of the importance of gut health accomplished by nutrition.”

The inclusion of ingredients with lower ash content causes less water to be pulled into the lumen from the cells lining the gut. These ingredients, in addition to increased nutrient digestibility and decreased pathogen growth described above, combine to create firmer stools in the pigs. 

Gut health was a popular topic at the American Society of Animal Science meeting in Des Moines in March, says Dr. Galloway. Many speakers specifically addressed the importance of improving gut health.  Suggested ways to accomplish this included the use of anti-inflammatory ingredients, prebiotics and probiotics, new combinations of proteins, and ingredients that either enhance water uptake by the gut or decrease water loss into the gut.