Weaned pigs in a farrowing unit.

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Manage Enteric Infections to Improve the Health and Livability of Pigs

4 minute read

Weaning is one of the most stressful events for pigs in their lifetime and enteric infections are common challenges that arise during this phase of production. They are associated with the gut of a pig and the bacteria that cause enteric infections are often endemic, meaning that they are commonly found in a pig barn. This typical occurrence is largely due to the comingling of weaned nursery pigs from multiple sow farms, each with its own microenvironment.  

In addition, in the first 72 hours post-weaning, pigs will experience stress from transportation, co-mingling and transitioning from a sow’s milk to grain-based diets. Feed intake also takes time to ramp up post weaning. All these factors put pressure on the gut, creating the opportunity for pathogenic bacteria to establish, proliferate and cause challenges. 

Enteric Infections Have a Negative Impact on Swine Gut Health 

Pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, Lawsonia, dysentery and salmonella are common disease pressures during this critical time. Each bacteria impacts the gut in a variety of different ways. For example, E. coli will attack the tight junctions in the gut and cause a breakdown of the integrity of the intestinal barrier resulting in leaky gut, a condition that and allows bacteria to pass from the intestinal tract into the circulatory system causing other infections. 

Lawsonia, another bacteria, can cause hyperplasia, or a rapid increase in the number of enterocytes that line the villi of the gut. This leads to a thickening of the mucosal wall and results in the malabsorption of nutrients causing diarrhea and a weaker immune status. 

Mitigate Enteric Infections with Sanitation and The Right Zinc 

If a pig is in a nutrient-compromised situation, pathogens will have more of an opportunity to do more damage to the GI tract and cause leaky gut. Adding the right zinc to nursery diets, along with optimal sanitation practices is key to keeping a pig’s immune system working, especially during weaning.   

Feeding performance trace minerals such as Zinpro® zinc has been known to limit the impact enteric bacteria has on swine gut health by supporting gut integrity and immunity, resulting in less mortality. 

Years of proven research has demonstrated that feeding Zinpro zinc helps weaned pigs mount a more robust immune response and recover from encountered challenges more quickly. Zinpro® Performance Minerals® can also help maintain feed intake during a disease challenge, which allows a pig to use more nutrients for its immune function and growth. Ensuring adequate feed intake will help maintain average daily gain and reach finishing body weight more efficiently and in fewer days to ensure optimal throughput and overall wellbeing.  

However, we know that nutrition is only one piece of the puzzle. Another key factor to ensure nursery pigs have the best opportunity to thrive is by following proper sanitation procedures. Bacteria can be present in the barn environment and keeping pens clean can help minimize health challenges from enteric infections.  

Remember to have procedures in place for all employees that state,   

  • Buildings should be thoroughly washed, disinfected and have adequate time to dry between fills.  
  • All fecal material and all organic matter on the slats are cleaned off.  
  • Feeders can also be a vehicle for enteric bacteria and they should be properly cleaned between fills as well. 

For more information on how Zinpro will partner with you to look at the holistic wellbeing of your business and improve the health of pigs, read the blogs below.  

Weaned pigs walking in a pen.
Improve Immune Response Through Better Nutrition

Improve Nursery Pig Growth and the Pig Immune System with Proven Animal Nutrition