Strategic late-finishing nutrition for sustainable pig performance

The genetic progress is constantly pushing for more and heavier pigs. However, by nature, pigs get less efficient as they get bigger. Adopting the right nutritional strategy in late finishing can help the animals cope with stress, minimize waste and keep performance momentum.

Late finishing, a fair investment

The swine productivity under commercial conditions is far below the animal’s genetic potential. This difference is called ‘growth gap’ and is a multifactorial challenge. The related stress can negatively impact the profitability of a swine farm. Major stressors are increased intake leading to feed competition, limited pig space, metabolic heat production and last but not least physiologic stress of the puberty. On top of this, mature finishing pigs are transitioning from primarily lean muscle deposition to a less efficient combination of lean and fat deposition. Meanwhile, finishing feed represents about half the feed usage on a farrow-to-finish operation. Sostriving for the best economical return pays of most in the least efficient phase of the production cycle.

Coping with stress is key to success

The adverse effects of stress on an animal are mediated through the endocrine, nervous and immune systems. The mechanisms by which specific hormones and cytokines are activated to reduce feed intake, muscle protein deposition, immune competence and increase fatness are now being understood. Although the physiological stress and environmental conditions of intensive farming can hardly be altered, influencing the ability of pigs to cope with this stress via nutrition is feasible. Relevant feeding strategies can play a key role to positively modulate the microbiome, restore the oxidative balance and reduce inflammation. A meta-analysis and large-scale commercial applications have shown that Ambitine®, as a multidimensional solution, can help unlock the growth potential in finishing pigs.

Good gut feeling to drive microbiome expression

Figure 1. Effect of ambitine supplementation on VFA production in caecum and colon

Protecting the pig without compromising productivity

Secondly, restoring the balance between pro-oxidants and antioxidants while reducing inflammation are detrimental to keep up the momentum of feed efficiency in fattening pigs. In the last weeks before market, pigs fed Ambitine® supplementation experienced an improved daily weight of +4,2% and reduced feed conversion of 2,6% on average. The Ambitine® technology aims at compensating this potential performance decline not only by supporting gut function but also by increasing resilience towards external stressors. This stress resilience was recently highlighted in a Chinese study where parameters such as oxidative stress and inflammation were measured. On the one hand, the Ambitine® treatment improved the liver antioxidant capacity with increase in levels of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, catalase and malondialdehyde (See Fig 2). And on the other hand, the immune response to stress was optimized in finishing pigs treated with the Ambitine® as the concentration of key pro-inflammatory markers was lower compared to a control diet (See Fig 3).

Figure 2. Systemic anti-oxidant effects of Ambitine
Figure 3. Effect of Ambitine on inflammation reduction

Significant improvements in understanding the mechanisms of the stress response provide an opportunity to manipulate the endocrine and cytokine systems of pigs and improve productivity in commercial environments. Pigs need holistic nutrition to respond to late finishing challenges. Selecting the right combination of active ingredients for fattener diets pays off as it can support efficiency no matter what barriers your pigs face in the last phase before market. Thus, Ambitine® as one nutritional tool can deliver multiple benefits in the late-finishing phase of pork production.

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