The effect of probiotic administration on piglets perfor- mance and intestinal microbiota
Abstract: Piglets are born with an undeveloped immune system and without a developed microbiota in their gastro intestinal tract. Early establishment of the microbiota is important for a good intestinal function but also immunologic maturation. In addition, it is of great importance with a well-developed microbiota early in life to prevent health issues and increase performance. In this study, a feed supplement with two probiotic strains (Lactobacillus reuteri and Lactobacillus plantarum) was supplemented to piglets three times a week from the age of 3 days until weaning at 34 days. The supplement contained 8x107 ± 3x107 cfu L. reuteri and 2x109 ± 5x107 cfu L. plantarum at every occasion and was used to evaluate if it could provide any effects on performance, faecal score and intestinal microbiota. Thirty piglets from three litters were selected where five piglets received the probiotic supplement and five piglets received a placebo treatment (control group) in each litter. The piglets were held in intact litters with the mother sow until weaning. Supplementation with probiotics showed no significant effect on performance regarding average daily weight gain or faecal score. The bacterial count for lactic acid bacteria isolated from fresh faecal samples was somewhat higher in piglets fed probiotics during the whole experimental period, and with significant greater counts at 42 days of age (P=0.041). Bacterial count for Enterobacteriaceae showed no significant difference between treatment groups. The distribution of lactic acid bacteria in fresh faeces analysed with Maldi-Tof and the composition in collected rectal swabsamples analysed with the molecular fingerprinting method Terminal-restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP), did show relatively similar results from both treatment groups. In conclusion, no clear effect could be seen on piglets performance or microbiota with probiotic supplement. However, the data set in this study was quite small, which can explain the difficulty to see a significant effect between treatment groups.
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