Following the increasing worldwide demand for reduction of antibiotic growth promoter usage, some alternatives are being tested. Feed additives via water and feed proved to increase swine performance and profitability all over the world.
Antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) were introduced several decades ago to optimise the growth rate and feed conversion rate (FCR) of swine. Their use became popular worldwide, with profitable results, especially when pigs were kept in suboptimal conditions. In 2006 the European Union (EU) banned AGPs, although in most countries outside EU the preventive use of antibiotics is still permitted. The danger behind AGPs use is that – being broad spectrum drugs – they lead to antimicrobial resistance. The recently released report ‘Review on Antimicrobial Resistance’, commissioned by the UK Prime Minister and supported by the Welcome Trust and UK Government, explains the problems associated with antibiotic resistance.
As antimicrobial resistance in animals is related to resistance in humans, the use of AGPs represents a public health concern. Therefore there is an increasing trend from governments and retailers to restrict their usage.
Furthermore, antibiotic resistance negatively affects animal performance and appropriate diseases treatments, as therapeutic antibiotics no longer work as they should.
Smart strategies to AGPs
With this challenge in mind Trouw Nutrition performed trials with swine in Australia, China and North America. The results show that the use of feed additives leads to better FCR compared to AGPs, presenting a smart alternative strategy for having healthy and profitable pigs with out antibiotic growth promoters.
In combination with good farm and health management, feed additives can play a key role in minimising the use of AGPs. By positively affecting the gut microbiota balance, the gut mucosa barrier and the pig immunity, feed additives can increase body weight and decrease FCR in AGP – free production systems.
In the Australian study a drinking water feed additive (Selko-pH) and AGPs were fed to weaned piglets. The result showed that those receiving the feed additive and only one AGP far outperformed the other two groups: one receiving just two AGPs and the other receiving two AGPs plus the additive.
In comparison with the group with worst performance – two AGPs and no additive – the piglets fed Selko-pH and just one AGP gained on average 40gr more per day, meaning an extra kilo final weight and a 0.3 lower FCR at the end of the fourth week.
In the Chinese study Selko Presan-FX was tested in weaning pigs. It was found that those piglets gained 30gr more per day during the first week after weaning compared to those fed AGPs. The overall result was 800gr more per piglet at four weeks after weaning.
Another important finding was that the animals receiving Presan-FX had better faecal consistency, a meaningful benefit, as diarrhoea is a common problem during weaning.
North American study
In this trial the effect of feed additives compared to AGPs in finisher pigs was tested. Pigs fed Selko Presan-FX presented a significant improvement in FCR, which resulted in about US$4 savings per pig. As the highest cost for finisher pig producers is feed, this strategy might be very appealing economically.
An extra study in North America was also done to confirm if it was possible to replace the commonly used and cheap ionophore –salinomycine by a feed additive, without affecting profitability. The study on finishing pigs found that the feed additive reduced the FCR by two points, at a similar overall cost per kg of gain.
An integral approach
On top of the use of feed additives – via drinking water and feed – good practises in farm management are important. The implementation of an integral approach can help reach optimal benefits on swine production with profitable results in AGP-free environments.
Selko is the feed additives brand of Trouw Nutrition, a Nutreco company. Selko’s portfolio consists of natural feed additive solutions that add value to integrators, feed mills and farmers. Focus areas are Salmonella control, feed safety, gut health in antibiotic – free production systems and trace mineral nutrition solutions.
Selko solutions are offered as a complete package consisting of products, know-how and services. The Selko brand encompasses blends of organic acids, organic minerals, betaine and mycotoxin binders. Trouw Nutrition’s global sales organisation commercialises the Selko feed additives brand.