Enteric infections are challenges associated with the gut of a pig and the bacteria that cause enteric infections are often endemic, meaning that they can pretty much always be found in a pig barn. This is largely a typical occurrence due to the comingling of weaned nursery pigs from multiple sow farms, each with its own microenvironment.
Nursery pigs are susceptible to enteric infections such as E. coli, Lawsonia, dysentery and salmonella. Many cases of enteric diseases are subclinical but can become more severe when a pig is facing additional stressors like those experienced post-weaning.
During the first 72 hours post-weaning, nursery pigs will experience stress because of transportation, co-mingling and from transitioning from a liquid diet to a solid feed diet, which can lead to reduced feed intake. All of these factors put additional pressure on the gut, creating the opportunity for pathogenic bacteria to establish, proliferate and cause challenges.
Pathogenic bacteria impact the gut in a variety of different ways and each bacteria has unique means to infect the host. One way, which can be caused by E. coli, is that the bacteria will attack the tight junctions in the gut and cause a breakdown of the integrity of the intestinal barrier. This results in leaky gut, a condition that and allows bacteria to pass from the intestinal tract and into the circulatory system causing other infections.
Another way, which can be caused by Lawsonia, is that the 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.
In clinical cases, the primary symptoms focus around diarrhea. A severe or clinical challenge can cause increased mortality. In the case of subclinical diseases, the infection will be present without symptoms, but will still slow pig growth. In one study (Paradis et al., 2012 J Swine Health Prod 20:137-141), subclinical ileitis reduced average daily gain by 59% and resulted in a financial loss of $3 and $11 USD (2.65€ and 9.75€) per pig marketed.
Improving nutrition with performance trace minerals can limit the impact enteric bacteria has on swine gut health. If a pig is in a nutrient-compromised situation, those pathogens will have more of an opportunity to do more damage to the GI tract and cause leaky gut.
Feeding zinc from Availa®Zn helps weaned pigs mount a more robust immune response and recover from encountered challenges more quickly. Performance trace minerals 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.
The stress associated with weaning, transport and comingling is challenging for nursery pigs. Dietary phase changes and other management practices also cause stress in the first three weeks post-weaning. Using TruCare®LQ Zn — the only water-soluble performance trace mineral supplement on the market — allows producers to get vital nutrients into the weaned pig through the water during these challenges, both immediately post-placement and during the first three weeks of the nursery phase.
Improving nutrition will help mitigate the negative impacts of enteric infections but cannot prevent the bacteria from being present in the environment or in the gut of a weaned pig. Focusing on proper sanitation in the barn is key to minimizing enteric infections in the herd.
Make sure buildings are thoroughly washed, disinfected and have adequate time to dry between fills. Ensure that all fecal material and all organic matter on the slats is cleaned off. Feeders can also be a vehicle for enteric bacteria, make sure those are properly cleaned between fills as well.
For more information on how to mitigate the impact of enteric infections in nursery pigs and improve the pig immune system with performance trace minerals, contact your Zinpro representative today.