Farmscape for February 14, 2023
Research exploring the factors related to the health of the gut of the pig is expected to result in new interventions that will improve animal health, welfare and productivity.
To identify markers that will flag developing health problems, the Western College of Veterinary Medicine is examining factors related to the health of the gut of the pig.
Dr. Matheus Costa, an Assistant Professor with the University of Saskatchewan's Western College of Veterinary Medicine and an adjunct professor with Utrecht University, suggests the characterization of a healthy gut could be used the same way we use increased body temperature to indicate fever.
Clip-Dr. Matheus Costa-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:
I believe the field as a whole is moving toward, can we find some kind of marker that will tell us there's something wrong with this gut, let's act now because there is something worse coming.
Really it’s these early markers of gut health that are the next step and obviously there will be a multitude of interventions that will follow where we can hopefully improve gut health and prevent disease or control disease, perhaps improve for example general behavioral conditions.
In humans there is a lot of research associated with depression and gut health and microbiota.
In pigs we believe, for example, that tail biting, ear biting, some of that may be impacted by gut health.
Perhaps research in the future will help us to understand that further and develop interventions that, even though pigs may be under stress as they are weaned, as they are transported, we can minimize the impact of that stress and behavior because we can improve gut health and improve that communication between the brain and the gut.
There's a few different paths that gut health research is going to take on in the next few years and those are the main two paths I believe that will see very interesting developments.
Dr. Costa notes, with a healthy gut, the pig can digest nutrients properly, it can absorb nutrients properly and it won't waste a lot of feed so gut health is important from that perspective but the more we study gut health, the more we realize how its importance goes beyond that.
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