Home 5 Ag Stories Producers urged to invest in herd’s gut health

Producers urged to invest in herd’s gut health

Source: Wikimedia Commons

One of the largest defenders against disease in swine is found in a pigs gut. A veterinarian says producers should make gut health a priority within their operation early in their herds life.

Dr. Greg Cline serves as professional services veterinarian for Boehringer Ingelheim. Cline encourages swine producers to keep gut health top-of-mind, as it plays a crucial role in performance and production.

“It’s such an important issue because it’s so easily overlooked,” Dr. Cline said. “Oftentimes the problem is large before we see diarrhea. We can see gut health issues all the way into adults. We have to remember by the time we visualize gut health effects, we’ve lost performance and production efficiency.”

Dr. Cline talks about two diseases caused by poor gut health. He first provides an overview of Ileitis, a infectious gut disease found in 96% of all U.S. swine farms.

“We see tremendous losses due to Ileitis in pigs,” Dr. Cline said. “That bacteria is going to present in two different forms. One being a loose “cow pie” stool and one being present in a more acute hemorrhagic form. Both of these can lead to mortality, but the hemorrhagic form seems to lead to a higher degree of mortality due to its acute nature.”

Dr. Cline adds research indicates producers give up $5/head in performance losses when their herd is effected by Ileitis.

Salmonella is another disease onset by improper gut health, and one of the most resilient enteric diseases affecting swine today.

“Oftentimes it’s a much more chronic disease leading to a long-term gut health interruption and longer, slower case of diarrhea. When we alter gut health, we alter the nutrient digestibility and that leads to poorer production and performance for our pigs,” Dr. Cline said.

Few studies have been done on the financial losses producers face following Salmonella in their herd. However, one study – comparing high and low Salmonella conversion levels – suggests producers lose five pounds of pork/square foot of building space in growth performance which can exceed $10/head.

Dr. Cline adds both diseases can be treated with an antibiotics. However, he believes prevention, not treatment, is the pathway forward.

“As soon as you recognize you’re having a problem with gut health issues, get with your herd veterinarian. Get with nutritionist. Let’s establish a plan so you’re not having to deal with treatment routinely. Establish a plan where you can prevent these gut health issues, so you can remove some of the pathogens from the equation of production losses,” Dr. Cline said.