Why is early life feeding important in piglets?
WIAS magazine - Fall edition 2021
Early-life bacterial colonisation can be of particular importance to the overall growth and health of an animal, especially influencing intestinal and immune system development with long-term implications. This is especially relevant in pig production where post-weaning enteric infection is one of the major concerns related to the (gut) health of pigs, and is associated with economic losses and welfare problems. Commercial pig production systems involves early and abrupt weaning, which contrasts with the gradual transition from mother’s milk to solid feed in nature. Due to such abrupt weaning, a piglet is challenged with multiple stressors (including environmental-, nutritional- and psychological-) which is usually associated with changes in gut microbiota and a high incidence of diarrhoea. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the impact of early-life feeding (pre-weaning provision of fibrous feed) on the intestinal microbiota and mucosa development in neonatal piglets, thereby preparing piglets for weaning transition.