Early diarrhea syndrome and vitamin D - Ontario Pork - Completed Research
Sunday, May 26, 2024

Completed Research

Ontario Pork has a call for research proposals once a year. These projects were approved for funding by the board on recommendation of the research committee. If you have questions or need further information about the research posted here please contact Jessica Fox at [email protected]

Completed Research

Early diarrhea syndrome and vitamin D

Project 20-08 - Dr. Tim Blackwell, OMAFRA

The majority of suckling pig diarrhea occurs between three and seven days after birth and is associated with specific pathogenic bacteria or viruses.  Much less common is diarrhea that occurs in suckling pigs within 48 hours of birth where neither pathogenic bacteria nor viruses are identified.  Researchers have been unable to reproduce the syndrome in order to study it in more detail. Attempts to prevent or treat the disease on the study farm included feedback of piglet feces to late gestation sows, treating the pigs with antibiotics before or after clinical signs are observed, feeding antibiotics to late gestation sows, changing sow gestation and lactation diets, acidifying the water for sows, vaccinating late gestation sows for E. coli, utilizing a wide variety of disinfectant agents, and combinations of the above.  Successful control of this syndrome had been unsuccessful to date.  There had been an early small improvement in the incidence of the diarrhea with the prophylactic administration of 4- 8 mL’s of yogurt to newborn piglets within 24 hours of birth.  However, this treatment was not producing a fully satisfactory response.

In this trial, there was no improvement in the response to prophylactic treatment of newborn pigs with early neonatal diarrhea when 40,000 I.U. of vitamin D was added to the existing yogurt prophylaxis.  Although initially there was an early clinical impression that the yogurt treatment had decreased the incidence of diarrhea, this was later attributed to weekly variation in syndrome severity.  It was suggested by the manufacturer of the Wean-D product that the addition of vitamin D could improve intestinal health and local intestinal immunity.  No such clinical effects were observed in this study.

Following this trial, a potassium supplement was added to the gestating and lactating sow diets and fibre levels were increased in the gestation ration.  This addition of the potassium supplement and added fibre was associated with a steady decrease in the number of litters displaying clinical signs.  Presently less than 3 litters per week are being treated for scours within 24 hours of birth.

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