Bill Close (left) and Joseph Kerns at Alltech's International Forum on Pork Production
Bill Close of Close Consultancy spoke to leaders in the pork industry at the International Forum on Pork Production. Close described the consequences and opportunities that arise from raising swine without antimicrobial growth promotants (AGPs). He started by listing some of the known benefits from use of AGPs, including: increased nutrient absorption, increased feed efficiency, reduced water consumption, reduced manure production; and reduced releases of nitrogen, phosphorus, methane and ammonia to the environment. Then he outlined management and nutrition steps that can be taken to achieve excellent animal health and production without AGPs.
When AGPs were banned in Denmark the effects were more severe for piglets than for older pigs. Therefore, many of Close's recommendations were focused on producing high quality piglets, especially with regard to improving colostrum quality and increasing colostrum intake. Close cited various studies that measured selenium (Se) content of colostrum and piglets across multiple parities. The sow is capable of providing adequate levels of Se in parity 1 and 2 with or without Se supplementation. However, Se levels in colostrum and piglets drops dramatically starting with parity 3. Addition of organic selenium supplements, such as Sel-Plex increased Se levels in colostrum and milk dramatically in these later parities. Addition of inorganic Se had much less impact, indicating poor bio-absorption.
The effect of selenium supplementation on pig immunity is well-known and it is not surprising that the benefit of application to the sow during lactation is transferred to the piglet. However, Close also cited examples of enhanced piglet growth when sows were fed Bio-Mos, a mannan-oligosaccharide supplement that reduces pathogenic bacteria adhesion in the gut by binding with pathogens and effectively disabling them.