Report Synopsis

The Power of the Microbiome to Produce Happy, Healthy Pigs

With the ever-increasing pressure to reduce antimicrobials and the looming crisis of antimicrobial resistance, pig producers must review their unit in a holistic manner with gut health at its centre. Gut health has been linked to both general health and lifetime performance. Harnessing the power of the microbiome, the population of bacteria which reside in the gut, is the key to sustainable pig production. Macro factors affecting gut health and the microbiome such as management, genetics, health and nutrition are rarely discussed in partnership due to the difficulties in assessing these jointly in a scientific manner. This review looks to evaluate the strategies implemented in major pig producing countries to understand how we can best manage pigs to ensure they are both happy and healthy.

Here we discuss the differences and similarities in pig producers in different regions and suggests possible links between these factors and how we may be able to produce pigs with less requirement for antibiotics, which in turn could help to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance. Pigs produced without antibiotics are generally managed in a more holistic manner and focus is given to ensuring the breeding herd is also of high health. As medication use is known to increase the risk of AMR and this is passed on and retained for the lifetime of the animal. Minimising medication use and so reducing the risk of AMR in the breeding herd will help us to limit AMR in the production herd.

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