Agriculture - - Your Feed Informant - >BY JAIME ABELLA SI­SON, DVM, FPCVFP

EARLY LIFE an­tibi­otic treat­ment in­flu­ences pig in­testi­nal im­mune pro­gram­ming. Piglets that re­ceive an an­tibi­otic treat­ment dur­ing early life have a less well-de­vel­oped im­mune sys­tem com­pared to con­trol piglets, says Dr. Dirkjan Schokker of Wa­genin­gen UR (Al­lAboutFeed, June 4, 2015).

Dr. Schokker ex­plained his method­ol­ogy thus: “We split lit­ter­mates into three ex­per­i­men­tal groups: 1) con­trols; 2) an­tibi­otic treat­ment at day 4 af­ter birth; and 3) same an­tibi­otic treat­ment in com­bi­na­tion with early life man­age­ment stres­sors (in­clud­ing tail dock­ing and nail clip­ping). By de­ter­min­ing the bac­te­rial com­po­si­tion in the gut (mi­cro­biota) and the gene ac­tiv­ity in the gut wall at days 8, 55, and 176 af­ter birth, it was pos­si­ble to get more in­sight into the bi­ol­ogy. Both the com­po­si­tion and di­ver­sity of gut mi­cro­biota was af­fected and we ob­served the short- and long-term changes due to these early life treat­ments.” In­creased ac­tiv­ity of im­mune-re­lated pro­cesses in gut tis­sue. “At day 8 af­ter birth, we ob­served in­creased ac­tiv­ity of im­mune-re­lated pro­cesses in the gut tis­sue. Es­pe­cially genes en­cod­ing im­mune re­cep­tors showed high­est ac­tiv­ity in the con­trol group, fol­lowed by the an­tibi­otic/man­age­ment stres­sor group, and lastly the an­tibi­otic group. At day 55, four weeks af­ter wean­ing, it was not pos­si­ble to de­tect treat­ment spe­cific changes, most prob­a­bly due to the high vari­a­tion re­sult­ing from the wean­ing process. How­ever, at day 176, the di­ver­sity of the mi­cro­biota in the an­tibi­otic treat­ment group was lower com­pared to the other two groups. In ad­di­tion, the ac­tiv­ity of the im­mune sys­tem still dif­fered be­tween the treat­ment groups.”

Early life an­tibi­otic treat­ment in­flu­ences gut mat­u­ra­tion. “In con­clu­sion, early life an­tibi­otic treat­ment in­flu­ences gut mat­u­ra­tion, in­clud­ing the pro­gram­ming of the im­mune sys­tem, and may have a life-long im­pact. Our find­ings are con­sis­tent with the hy­poth­e­sis that the ob­served long last­ing ef­fects are most prob­a­bly due to dif­fer­ences in the pro­gram­ming of the gut im­mune sys­tem as in­duced by the tem­po­rary early life changes in the com­po­si­tion and/or di­ver­sity of mi­cro­biota in the gut. In this con­text it is worth men­tion­ing that the an­i­mal’s geno­type also co-de­ter­mines the pat­tern of early life mi­cro­bial coloni­sa­tion of the gut.”


Stud­ies by US Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA) sci­en­tists have found that a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring an­timi­cro­bial en­zyme cur­rently be­ing used in food and bev­er­age ap­pli­ca­tions may also prove use­ful as an an­tibi­otic al­ter­na­tive for im­proved feed ef­fi­ciency and growth in pigs. Wil­liam Thomas Oliver, a re­search phys­i­ol­o­gist (an­i­mals) at USDA’s Agri­cul­tural Re­search Ser­vice in Clay Cen­ter, Ne­braska, and his col­leagues be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing lysozyme, which is used in food and bev­er­age ap­pli­ca­tions such as cheese- and wine-mak­ing, in 2010.


In a re­cently pub­lished trial, they com­pared the growth rates and weight gains of two groups of 600 piglets placed on one of 3 diet reg­i­mens:

1. Corn/soy­bean meal and spe­cialty pro­tein; 2. The same as 1 with lysozyme added; and 3. Feed con­tain­ing the an­tibi­otics chlorte­tra­cy­cline and tia­mulin hy­dro­gen fu­marate rather than the lysozyme.

Piglets’ hous­ing dur­ing the trial - The groups were also kept in wean­ing pens that had ei­ther been dis­in­fected or left un­cleaned since the last group of an­i­mals had oc­cu­pied them. The lat­ter was done to stim­u­late chronic, or long-term, im­mune ac­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing the pro­duc­tion of cy­tokines, which di­vert nu­tri­ents away from growth in swine and re­sult in slower weight gain.

12% faster growth in piglets - The re­sults showed that piglets on lysozyme- or an­tibi­otic-treated feeds grew ap­prox­i­mately 12% faster than un­treated pigs, even in un­cleaned pens, sug­gest­ing that the treat­ments suc­cess­fully ame­lio­rated the ef­fects of in­di­rect im­mune chal­lenge in the an­i­mals.

Pres­sure on to find an­tibi­otic al­ter­na­tives for use in pigs - Swine pro­duc­ers are cur­rently un­der pres­sure to elim­i­nate sub-ther­a­peu­tic an­tibi­otic use through­out the pro­duc­tion cy­cle, ac­cord­ing to Wil­liam Oliver, a phys­i­ol­o­gist at USDA’s Agri­cul­tural Re­search Ser­vice in Clay Cen­ter, Ne­braska. Find­ing safe and ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tives to tra­di­tional an­tibi­otics will give swine pro­duc­ers vi­able op­tions in the event the an­tibi­otics are re­moved from use, he added.

An­tibi­otic-re­sis­tant bac­te­ria sicken more than 2 mil­lion peo­ple in the United States each year and kill over 23,000 di­rectly.

THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH: The larger the is­land of knowl­edge, the longer the shore­line of won­der. – RALPH W. SOCK­MAN

Dr. Dirkjan Schokker of Wa­genin­gen UR

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