Protect weaned piglets from Streptococcus suis

S. suis infections are a worldwide problem around weaning. Clinical symptoms which are commonly observed in the field are meningitis, arthritis and septicemia. The disease can cause high mortality rates and results in increased antibiotic usage (mainly amoxycillin). Thus, S. suis is responsible for significant financial losses in todays’ swine industry (Haas and Grenier, 2017). Eradication of S. suis is difficult as a lot of different serotypes exist and effective vaccines are lacking.

Therefore, Agrimprove has developed C-Vita, a specific blend of medium-chain fatty acids, which gives broad support against widespread pathogens, and an explicit extra support against S. suis.

Demonstration of the antibacterial action in vitro

In order to prove the antibacterial activity of C-Vita, the Agrifirm Innovation Lab has performed an in-house developed in vitro test.

In this test C-Vita was added to a 20% basic piglet feed solution. The pH was controlled at different levels with HCl 1N. Afterwards, S. suis was added at 106-107 CFU/g of feed and incubated under stirring during 3h at 37°C. Bacterial counts were performed at the end of the incubation and are expressed by comparison with a negative control.

The results provided in the figure demonstrate that with a higher inclusion of C-Vita, a higher growth inhibition of S. suis is seen. As expected, the effect of adding C-Vita is higher with decreasing pH levels, meaning activity of the free fatty acids will be much stronger in acidic environments like the stomach, killing of incoming pathogens like S. suis without detrementing the good microflora in the intestine where pH is higher.

Better performances in weaned piglets from sows fed C-Vita

Piglets are born with a microbiological sterile gastrointestinal tract. However, shortly after delivery, the gut is colonized by microorganisms that are similar to the sow’s microbiota. Thus, the sow plays a pivotal role in the early microbial colonization of the gut. Zentek et al. (2011) showed that by feeding MCFA, the microbiome of the sow and/or its piglets may be altered, which results in improved piglet health and growth performance after weaning.

Through genetic selection, the number of live-born piglets per litter has increased. However, increasing litter size may be detrimental to piglet survival. As litter size has increased, so has piglet pre-weaning mortality. It has been well described that adequate colostrum ingestion (>200 g per piglet during the first 24 h after birth) is crucial for neonatal survival.

Studies investigating the influence of sow nutrition on colostrum yield are scarce. In several global field trials we showed that after the inclusion of C-Vita we were able to lower piglets’ mortality and antibiotic usage. In this context, we highlight two recent trials in commercial farms in which we observed that feeding C-Vita (1kg/T) during late gestation and lactation resulted in improved immunity of the piglets. 

The first trial was conducted in a Dutch farm with historical problems with S. suis, leading to an increased mortality, clinical arthritis and increased amoxicillin use. In total, 1600 TN-70 sows were supplemented with 1kg/T C-Vita in gestation and lactation feed. In this farm, immunocrit levels were monitored, in addition to arthritis scoring and amoxicillin use.

Immunocrit levels, which are positively correlated with pre-weaning survival rates (Vallet et al., 2012), increased significantly (+11.4%, p<0.05) when administrating C-Vita, which can be the result from a higher colostrum production and/or better colostrum quality. Additionally, pre-weaning mortality (-52%), prevalence of arthritis (-90%) and antibiotic treatment (-86%) were strongly reduced.

The second trial was conducted in a Belgian farm where sows were fed C-Vita (1kg/T) during late gestation and lactation feed. After two months of C-Vita supplementation, piglets’ immunocrit levels were increased by 23% (p<0.05). it is  known that there is a close relation between immunocrit levels in the serum of neonatal piglets and the level of immunoglobulins ingested. When piglets have enough access to good quality colostrum their immunocrit level should be higher than 11%. In this trial we observed a clear decrease in amount of piglets (-27%) not reaching the level of 11% after C-Vita supplementation.

Take control of S. suis even before piglets are born

It isn’t easy to tackle complex diseases like S. suis in the field. Next to a proper management check and veterinary control measurements, C-Vita can give nutritional support to farms that have to face high infections pressure. In order to obtain the highest effectiveness it is advised to administer C-Vita as well in the sow diets as in the weaning diets.

Written by

Maartje De Vos
Product Developer Pigs
+32 4 74 62 93 60