Diformates with monolaurates promote hygiene and safety during lactation
Compound feed is not only an effective way of delivering nutrients to animals, but it has long been utilised as a delivery strategy for non-nutritive additives used to promote health and production safety. To this end, the industry relied heavily on the use of antibiotics as growth promoters in the feed for decades, until it became clear that the development of bacterial resistance against these compounds could jeopardise their future in the fight against bacterial disease, not only in animals, but also in human health care. The search for alternatives became critical around 15 years ago, beginning in Europe, where it led to a ban of antibiotic growth promoters in feed in 2006.
Acidifiers have a long history of safe and effective use in diets for pigs, especially in Europe where their application was pioneered. Their mode of action on the growth and health of pigs at all life stages has been well documented, and their magnitude of action has been estimated in different husbandry conditions through statistical analysis.
While the antimicrobial impact of organic acids and their salts, including diformates, is mainly directed against Gram-negative bacteria, medium chain fatty acids (C6 to C12) have been shown to have also an antibacterial impact against various Gram-positive bacteria (Preuss et al., 2005). This is especially true for lauric acid and its monoglyceride ester monolaurate (Ruzin and Novick, 2000). Streptococcus suis for instance, a Gram-positive bacterium, is one of the most common harmful bacteria in pig production. It also proliferates in the digestive tract. Most piglets contract the bacteria from the sow during parturition. Thus, decontamination of the sow faeces may help in reducing infection, which will improve hygienic conditions of suckling piglets.
The following studies tested the efficacy of such "3rd generation acidifier" - a combination of diformate and monolaurate (traded as Formi GML, ADDCON, Germany) on its decontamination impact on Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria in sow faeces.
The first trial was carried out on a commercial farm in Lower Saxony, Germany. 600 sows were fed from the 100th day of gestation a special gestation feed containing 1.2% Formi GML. Prior to that, on the 90th day of gestation, faecal samples of 6 sows had been collected and sent for microbial analysis to the Veterinary University of Hanover. Samples of sow faeces were analysed for E. coli and Streptococci / Enterococci counts. The feed containing the additives was given to the sows until the 4th day of lactation. Thereafter, faecal samples were collected and analysed again from the same 6 sows. Data were analysed using the t-test and a significance level of 0.05 was used in all tests Results of the microbial analysis revealed a strong impact of both additives on the bacterial population in the faecal matter of sows. This holds true for both E.coli and Streptococci / Enterococci counts. The data are displayed in Table 1.
The reduction rate of the E. coli count in the faeces was above 90% (P=0.06). However, the reduction of the Streptococci count within the trial period was highly significant (97%; P<0.01).
Table 1: Bacterial counts (CFU/g) in sow faeces before and after feeding with 1.2% Formi GML and their respective reduction rates in per cent
The combined inclusion of diformate and monolaurate may therefore not only provide a healthy gut in sows, but might furthermore support the piglets indirectly during the suckling period by providing "clean" conditions and thus greatly reducing the spread of E.coli and Streptococci towards the new-born piglets.
Latest data, obtained on a semi-commercial research farm in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany show an overall reduction of the total count of aerobic bacteria in the faeces of sows fed with 1.0% GML by more than 94% (P=0.09), thus further confirming the previous results with the product (Figure 1), while the count of beneficial lactic acid bacteria was increased by factor 10 (Figure 2).
Figure 1: Total aerobic bacteria count in sow faeces fed with or without 1.0% Formi GML, collected on day 21st of lactation (n=4)
Figure 2: Lactobacilli count in sow faeces fed with or without 1.0% Formi GML, collected on day 21st of lactation (n=4)
The authors commented that the use of GML may therefore not only provide a healthy gut in sows, by ensuring the presence of the beneficial Lactobacilli and a strong reduction of bacterial pathogens, but might furthermore support the piglets indirectly during the suckling period by providing "clean" conditions and thus greatly reducing the spread of E.coli and Streptococci towards the new-born piglets.
In conclusion, supplementing the sow lactation-diets with GML led to a higher feed intake. It further increased the birth weights and weaning weights of piglets (data reported separately). GML supplemented diets positively affected the microbial population in the gastro-intestinal tract of the sows (measured as pathogenic load as well as Lactobacilli count in sow faeces) and thus provided a healthier environment for the new-born piglets. It is therefore highly recommended to regularly use FORMI GML in the lactation diet of sows - to not only improve the overall condition of the sow, but also to have a positive impact on the suckling piglets by ensuring healthy and safe conditions during their first weeks of life!
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Article made possible through the contribution of Christian Lückstädt et al.