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Relation of post weaning anorexia and post weaning diarrhea

Fasting by newly weaned piglets, is considered to be a significant contributor to the post-weaning syndrome, which includes diarrhoea and even death of piglets. An in vivo experiment was conducted to monitor changes in fermentation end products in the faeces of weaning piglets by the inclusion of selected fermentable carbohydrates in the diet. The experiment was repeated in three replicates of 16 piglets.

Specially raised piglets (neither antibiotics nor creep feeding) were weaned abruptly at four weeks of age. Each replicate was conducted over a period of ten days. The piglets were offered one of two dietary treatments: control diet (CON), or fermentable carbohydrate enriched diet (CHO); and were subjected to one of the two fasting treatments (fasting for two days in the beginning of the experimental period and non-fasting).

Faecal samples were collected per rectum every day during the experimental period, and visually examined for indications to diarrhoea. Piglets were slaughtered at the end of the experimental period and digesta samples collected from different parts of gastrointestinal tract (GIT): first and second halves of the small intestine, caecum and colon. The dry matter, volatile fatty acid (VFA) profile, and ammonia concentrations were analysed from the faecal and digesta samples. Daily feed intake was also recorded.

The consistency (DM) of the digesta did not indicate any differences between treatments; hence, 48 hour post-weaning fasting did not seem to affect the occurrence of diarrhoea under these experimental conditions. Fasting also had no effect on fermentation end products by day 10. This was unexpected, as it had been anticipated that the fasted animals would show reduced performance characteristics. This may have been due to the comparatively controlled conditions of the experimental facilities.

However, as a result of these findings, it was also hypothesized that the propensity to fast in response to stress may be an individual characteristic of the animal, and future experiments will take this into account.

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