How Can We Feed Pigs to Improve the Microbiome?

( National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff )

Does feed make a difference when it comes to improving the microbiome of the pig? Emily Otto-Tice, a swine nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition, says there are several ways you can feed your pigs to influence the microbiome in the gut. 

One approach is to use different blends of commodity ingredients. For example, fiber is important for the microbiome. Fiber can come from distillers grains or other products like wheat midds.

“We also have some technologies looking at smaller components of those feed ingredients, such as simple carbohydrates or things that are not necessarily digestible to the pig or give benefit from an energy aspect, but are food for the bugs,” she says. “We refer to those as prebiotics that help stimulate the growth of the good bugs in the microbiome in the hindgut of the small intestine.”

In addition to looking at the different blend of ingredients, Otto-Tice says there are also some feed additives that can be added to the diet to help improve the microbiome. 

“There are blends of prebiotics available, the fibers and foods that we need to growth healthy microbiome, as well as feeding probiotics themselves to induce a population of beneficial bacteria in the gut,” she says. 

Producers can even use different enzyme technologies to help further digest components in the pig’s gut that it doesn’t have enzymes for, Otto-Tice adds. This helps the microflora flourish in the gut.

Find out how the microbiome impacts pork production and how the microbiome actually works.

More from Farm Journal’s PORK:

Healthy Pigs Start With a Healthy Gut

Breaking Down the Microbiome