Piglets don’t have to eat yeast additives directly to show growth benefits, research finds
Providing nursing sows with yeast feed additives may improve daily growth in even the youngest piglets, according to new research from Kansas State University.
Piglets born to sows fed a diet with a yeast-based additive had greater daily weight gain from birth to 45 days of age in a recent trial by Kansas State University. Piglets also gained weight faster and showed better feed efficiency for 10 days immediately after weaning. However, piglets fed the yeast additive directly did not always enjoy the same growth benefits, according to the study.
“We did not expect to have a negative effect in the nursery and are not sure on why this response occurred,” said Raghavendra Amachawadi, an assistant professor of food animal therapeutics at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine. But, “the benefit of feeding yeast to the sows on their offspring’s performance is intriguing and agrees with research from others,” he said.
Yeast is already used extensively as a probiotic, and can also be used as a prebiotic to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, Amachawadi said. Components of yeast may also bind pathogenic bacteria in order to remove them from the gut, he said.
In this case, providing the nursing sows with yeast may have benefited the offspring by improving the health of the sow, influencing milk production and leading to healthier piglets. There is limited evidence that the yeast is transferred to the piglets via the milk, or that the yeast reduced the number of pathogenic bacteria in the nursery environment, Amachawadi said.
While their study showed promise, the authors note in their report that the results from other papers on the use of yeast in nursery pigs and lactating sows remains mixed. This could be the result of synergistic effects between the yeast and other components of the diet, according to their report.