Improve iron status and performance in piglets with high doses of phytase

Published Thursday, 2nd November 2017

Recorded at the International Phytate Summit in Miami last November, in this video AB Vista Technical Manager Dr Pete Wilcock presents recent research into how high doses of phytase can improve iron status and productivity. 

The introduction of hyper-prolific sows has led to an increase in the number of weaned piglets per sow, placing greater stress on newly weaned piglets. Bigger litter sizes are often reflected in lower-average weaning weights, and so continued focus on ways of improving post-weaning growth is important.

As a result, pig production systems are becoming increasingly interested in the iron status of piglets, due to its potential impact on performance and sudden death. 

There are low levels of iron in sows’ milk, and pigs housed in confinement are susceptible to anaemia if they are not administered an iron injection (typically 200 mg) early in life. However, recent research has shown that even with an iron injection, modern pigs from high milk production sows may still become borderline anaemic by weaning (35% of piglets) and may be susceptible to poor post-weaning growth.

Although generally seen as beneficial in mitigating anaemia, iron injections may also potentially have some negative effects associated with higher oxidative stress on the animal. Indeed, studies have indicated that the requirement for biological antioxidants increases in piglets that have had an iron injection.

Even with current practices, anaemia in pigs at post-weaning can have a deleterious effect on growth. Therefore, any new post-weaning feed applications that can mitigate the effects of iron deficiency should be explored.

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