Piglet Feed Supplements Support Immune Systems By Ann Perry
February 4, 2009
As feed costs rise and the production of ethanol from corn grain
increases, swine producers have ramped up their search for new feed supplements
for younger swine. According to studies by Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists, feeding dried distiller's grains (DDGS) to piglets can give their
immune systems an extra boost.
The U.S. ethanol industry generates an
estimated 10-14 million metric tons of DDGS annually from the milling of corn
grain that yields fermentable sugars for conversion into fuel alcohol. The
majority of DDGS are fed to beef and dairy cattle.
But livestock producers also use DDGS to supplement the diet of older
Weber, a physiologist at the ARS
Odor and Manure Management Research Unit in Ames, Iowa, partnered with
Kerr and microbiologist
Ziemer to study the effects of feeding DDGS to young pigs.
their research on piglets, the team divided weanling pigs into four groups and
fed them either a standard control diet or diets supplemented with DDGS,
soybean hulls or citrus pulp. After one week, the researchers observed an
increase in cytokine expression in the pigs’ small intestine, which they
linked to DDGS consumption. Cytokines are chemical messengers that are
essential for proper immune function.
This response reinforced findings of previous DDGS studies showing
that pigs consuming diets supplemented with DDGS exhibited reduced levels of
ileitis, a common inflammation of the small intestine.
Kerr and others have found that adult pigs can be fed with a corn and
soy-meal feed that is up to 40 percent DDGS. However, piglets are given feed
with a maximum DDG content of 7.5 percent, because their growth may be reduced
when they consume too much fiber.
more about this research in the February 2009 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.