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Getting pigs off to a good start with better gut health

Improved education of caretakers is one way pork producers can help ensure their pigs have a healthy gut and get off to a good start, Noel Garbes, DVM, technical services veterinarian, Zoetis, told Pig Health Today.

There’s plenty of knowledge and discussion about the importance of good gut health, but sometimes not enough work in the barn has been done to teach caretakers, he said.

The major enteric diseases he sees in today’s swine herds are Escherichia coli, Salmonella and rotavirus. Enteric problems are more likely to be seen when pigs are weaned too early, when measures aren’t taken to reduce the stress of weaning and moving pigs and when the environment is less than ideal, Garbes said.

He advised not weaning pigs earlier than 17 days of age. For pigs to be weaned, it’s a good idea to introduce them to some of the food they’ll have after they’re moved.

Make sure recently weaned pigs can find food and water in the nursery the first several days after weaning, Garbes said. Feed from pans on the floor, for example, several times daily. Feeding from pans also enables pigs to eat together, which they’re used to, and thereby minimizes social stress. Recently weaned pigs will be better able to find water if it’s left to drip initially.

He emphasized the importance of proper sanitation. Before pigs are brought into a facility, it should be adequately cleaned, sanitized and dried. Avoid bringing pigs into a wet barn or one with an uncomfortable temperature, Garbes said.


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