Improve sow & piglet performance with FRA® Gut Balance

Piglet performance can be improved with clever use of feed additives. Results indicate that piglet health is positively influenced by enhancing sow diets with FRA® glycerides.

Managing the gut

Production efficiency is influenced by many factors, like farm management, genetics and nutrition. Farmers are constantly searching for opportunities to improve the performance of their sows and piglets. One of these opportunities is to include specific feed additives to sow diets, with the aim to support sow health and improve milk production. After birth, most piglets are depending on their mothers’ milk. For these piglets, it is crucial that sows produce enough milk and that the milk is of high quality. Piglets with higher body weight at weaning are usually healthier and this benefits not only the animal but will also bring added value for the farmer. Providing lactating sows with sufficient nutrients is crucial for sow performance and for health and growth of newborn piglets. However, lactating sows need more nutrients than the amount they can consume through feed to produce sufficient amount of milk which is also of good quality. A healthy digestive tract is crucial for an efficient feed utilization. Furthermore, about 70% of the immune system is located in the intestinal tract. Hence, it is of utmost importance to stimulate an optimal intestinal health.

Stimulating intestinal health

For decades, short- and medium chain fatty acids have been used to stimulate intestinal health because of their antimicrobial properties. However, they only have an antimicrobial effect in their undissociated form and act mainly in the acidic gastric environment of the animal. In the neutral environment of the intestinal tract, where organic acids dissociate and lose their antimicrobial properties, esterified glycerides of fatty acids do not dissociate and are therefore able to maintain their antimicrobial effect throughout the entire GIT. Research has shown that specific chain lengths of fatty acid glycerides have surprisingly selective antibacterial effects. In general, glycerides of short chain fatty acids are highly effective against Gram-negative bacteria, while glycerides of medium chain fatty acids are more effective against Gram-positive bacteria such as Streptococcus suis. Depending on the bacterial challenge, FRAmelco offers a solution to target specific pathogens. For instance, when a broad-spectrum antibacterial effect is required, FRA Gut Balance Dry is the key to overcome bacterial challenges from both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria.

More milk and improved milk quality

Combining glycerides of short- and medium chain fatty acids is likely to benefit intestinal health and feed utilization. Both result in lesser pathogenic pressure, in turn leading to cleaner farrowing crates and ultimately reducing the risk of infections among newborn piglets as the environment gets affected by fewer pathogens. Above that, piglet performance can be improved as a result of increased milk quantity and milk quality. Glycerides of medium chain fatty acids can be absorbed via the lymphatic system and will subsequently end up in the blood stream and even in the milk of the sow. Higher milk quality and quantity, together with a cleaner housing environment creates the perfect conditions to improve piglet performance.

Improved piglet performance

Trials show that applying glycerides to the sow diet at confinement (one week before farrowing when moving to the farrowing house) and during lactation, improve average daily growth of suckling piglets and thereby increasing weaning weight. This was shown in a trial conducted at a commercial farm with research facilities in Germany. A total of 40 sows was divided over two treatment groups of 20 sows each. The control group received a basal diet and the treatment group received the same basal diet with 2kg of FRA® Gut Balance Dry per ton of feed from confinement until weaning. As shown in Table 1, the average body weight of live born piglets was slightly higher in the treatment group. In addition, weaning weight per piglet was more than 1kg higher in the treatment group. Therefore, the amount of live weight at weaning per litter was increased by 13kg! Moreover, as a rule of thumb, an increase of 1kg in body weight at weaning will result in 3kg higher body weight at the end of the rearing period. This is of huge economic importance. The increased weaning weight of the piglets can be interpreted as a direct effect of the glycerides strategy and a result of better sow performance, presumably through higher milk yield and better milk quality. Interestingly, the number of losses within 24 hours after birth was reduced with 45% when applying FRA® Gut Balance Dry to sow diets.

In conclusion

This indicates that piglets from sows receiving FRA® Gut Balance Dry are less prone to become infected. Consequently, they are stronger and have a better health status. Reproduction sows as well as newborn piglets may benefit from FRA® Gut Balance Dry, through improved intestinal health, resulting in increased body weight and better overall performance.


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