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Novel ingredient blend aids pig growth after heat stress

Scott Olson_Getty Images News hogs huddled together at hog farm
Additional research aims to clarify product mode of action.

With extensive data from stressed nursery pigs as well as poultry trials, BioMatrix International recently completed a series of three research trials in the last two months examining the effects on finishing swine of its proprietary blend of ingredients containing acidifiers, immune modulating ingredients, prebiotics and essential oils (Biolex).

Stressors on swine can have a detrimental impact on their ability to grow. BioMatrix wanted to understand if Biolex would decrease the impact of stressors on swine, allowing them to eat and thrive,” said Dr. Nathan Horn, director of research and technical services at BioMatrix.

In the research, BioMatrix found that feed efficiency improved even without stressors present, and swine experienced improved energy utilization. Horn told Feedstuffs that individual pig bodyweights had been measured in the studies, and feeding the blend reduced variation in pig weights, which meant a more uniform group of pigs at marketing.

Trial details

The first trial was conducted to target the effects of heat stress. In a 92-day trial from the end of the nursery period to market, pigs were exposed to stimulated heat stress before the blend was added to their diet, Horn said.

The ingredient blend increased weight in swine exposed to heat stress by up to 4 lb. within 21 days due to increased gain and feed intake, Horn reported, and the pigs continued to gain weight even without additional stressors due to fewer variations and mitigation of the post-stressor growth lag.

Often, a second stressor will result in swine weight depression. However, BioMatrix put pigs through a secondary stressor with the ingredient blend and saw the opposite result, with pigs showing more consistency and continued weight gain.

The second study was more of a conventional finisher pig study in which enrolled pigs started on trial at about 220 lb. In this trial, without heat stress, Horn said there were no difference in average daily gains, but there was a 2.5% improvement in feed efficiency.

The third trial was conducted to determine the ingredient blend's mode of action using ileal-cannulated pigs. The blend was found to improve energy utilization, with a 3% increase for each 1 lb. per ton of ingredient blend in the ration. This amounts to about 42 kcal/lb. of energy released, Horn added.

While additional mode-of-action research is ongoing, Horn suggested that the effects seen so far could be due to improved fat utilization or to a modulation of the gut microbiome. Another possibility could be due to anti-inflammatory properties and a prebiotic effect, he said.

Horn told Feedstuffs that it is "important to understand the mode of action" of this type of product to show that it works in the pig and also to know how the product is working. He added that the effects observed in the research appear to be due to the blend, because they have not be seen with individual components of the blend.

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