Nutritional strategies to optimize gut health and performance of weaned piglets: Part 1. Low crude protein diets, functional amino acids, and fiber
Post-weaning diarrhea associated with enteric infections is a major cause of poor performance in weaned pigs. Multiple stressors, such as moving to a new environment, social fights, and change of diet, in combination with low feed intake during the first week after weaning promotes intestinal inflammation, which is often associated with imbalanced gut microbiota (dysbiosis) having increased proportion of pathogenic bacteria and reduction in beneficial bacteria (Gresse et al., 2017).
Antimicrobial growth promoters (AGPs) and zinc oxide (ZnO) have been used in weaned pig diets to control the incidence of diarrhea; however, the use of in-feed AGPs has been banned in many countries due to human health concern associated with the increasing emergence of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. Among various alternatives to AGPs, there are different nutritional strategies that need to be considered to minimize the risk of post-weaning diarrhea. Thus, the aim of this AMINONews review article is to briefly present in three parts the effects of different nutritional strategies. In the first part, low dietary crude protein (CP) level, levels of functional amino acids (AA), and different types of dietary fiber are addressed as nutritional strategies to improve gut health and performance of piglets. In the second chapter, supplementation of feed additives, such as probiotics and organic acids are covered, and the third chapter, the effects of combining some of these strategies on gut health, growth performance and nitrogen (N) utilization of weaned pigs are explored.