Throughout Europe it is normal commercial practice that pigs are weaned at an age much less than that which occurs in the wild. This causes gastrointestinal disturbances and an increased susceptibility to infection, resulting in large economic losses to the pig industry. Whilst it is clear that many interacting factors may play a role in the increased susceptibility to infection current methods of control rely on the very wide use of antibiotics. The aim of these proposals is to examine the potential of using plant extracts and other natural substances, not considered harmful for human or animal health, as alternatives to antimicrobials in reducing losses from post-weaning infection, and improving productivity. It is widely recognised that many interacting factors play a role in this "disease process", we therefore propose to use four distinct approaches to address these. Specifically we will determine the effect of a range of plant extracts, pre-biotics, Lactobacillus fermented feed and feed intake on their ability to reduce the requirement for the use of antibiotics in the post-weaned pig. Plant extracts will be evaluated through an initial in vitro screening process and a small representative group selected on the basis of their diverse range of activities. These plant extracts together with the other experimental approaches will be characterised for their effect upon specific established indicators of gut health. These will include gut physiology, gut immunology, and gut ecology. Experimental approaches shown to modify gut health will be characterised in detail with respect to their mode of action and effect on the host immune system and gut function. These results of these studies will form the basis for selection and testing for their ability to alter susceptibility to microbial challenge. On the basis of their ability to reduce susceptibility to microbial challenge successful approaches will be evaluated in large scale production trials.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeNoE - Network of Excellence