Antibiotic alternative may start from alternative proteins in modern pig diets

Antibiotic alternative may start from alternative proteins in modern pig diets

Antimicrobial resistance caused by the use of antibiotics in animal production has caused global concern over recent years. The European Union banned the use of in-feed antibiotics in animal production in 2006. In Asia, South Korea was the first country to prohibit antibiotics in animal feed in 2012. On November 1st , 2016, China banned the use of the animal feed antibiotic Colistin. Vietnam is also in the process of phasing out antibiotics in animal feed by restricting the inclusion of antibiotics in the premix to below 20% and completely banning the use of in-feed antibiotics after 31st December 2017. Furthermore, earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put a restriction on the use of “medically important antimicrobials” in animal production.

These positive trends to tackle antimicrobial resistance bring more challenges to nutritionists on the quest to find antibiotic alternatives, especially in the case of young pigs during the weaning phase. It is well known that weaning increases stress on the young pig, with not only changes to diet, going from a majority liquid diet to a more complex plant based feed, but also with changes to environment, pen mates and immune pressures; with diarrhoea being the most common disease in newly weaned pigs. The quest to reduce antibiotics and improve animal health and performance opens up a completely new area of feed ingredient – from probiotics, prebiotics, organic acids, zeolites to phytonutrients. In fact, the list will continue to grow, with the solutions likely to come from specific strategies using a combination of these.

Learning from Denmark, one of the first countries in Europe to apply an antibiotic ban, we see a simpler and possibly overlooked solution. Besides an upgraded management policy on hygiene and internal processes including biosecurity, the quality and digestibility of feed ingredients and the diet are an important focus point. Feeding a high quality creep and weaning diet can help reduce the effects of weaning stressors on the performance and variability of the group. Dietary ingredients need to be of high quality, highly palatable and cost effective. According to Danish Pig Research Centre, newly weaned piglets must start eating as soon as possible one of the ways this is achieved is by more frequent feeding during the first few days.

Soyabean meal is not considered ideal for weaning piglets this is mainly due to the presence of anti-nutrient factors (ANF’s) in soybean meal even after solvent extraction and heat treatment.  However, soyabean meal is clearly a relatively low cost feed ingredient and is thus widely use in young pig diets.  In this context, AlphaSoy 530 seems to be the ideal protein alternative as it is a high-quality processed soy protein produced by a unique combination of enzyme and physical manufacturing technology, which provides a palatable high protein feed material for young, developing animals. Produced in Denmark with over 10 years of research and development, many trials demonstrate that AlphaSoy 530 can improve the performance of piglets when replacing other soy proteins. Using AlphaSoy 530 in pre-starter diets enhanced daily weight gain significantly against other soy proteins including soy protein concentrate and fermented soy protein (Figure 1). AlphaSoy 530 process reduces ANF’s to a safe level (figure 2) and improves the energy digestibility of the product to be 10%greater than conventional soya (Figure 3). These qualities are beneficial in the diets of young pigs where the immune system may already be compromised. Fishmeal and other high protein animal products are routinely used in young pig diets as they are well known to support high feed intake and drive early growth. In more than two academic trials, AlphaSoy 530 has been shown to be able to reduce or replace such animal proteins and maintain animal performance, thus reducing diet cost and reliance of these materials (Figure 4). More importantly, the use of AlphaSoy 530 was successful in weaned piglets without incident of diarrhoea even though no antibiotics or therapeutic zinc oxide was added to the diets.

In general, high quality nutrition and a well-managed environment can play a critical role in piglet performance around weaning without in-feed antibiotics. Utilising high quality proteins as part of the diet is one of the ways we can reduce the use of antibiotics and when can formulating with AlphaSoy can also help to reduce the reliance on high cost or variable ingredients.


Figure 1- Performance in pre-starter diets (weaning to day 6) comparing AlphaSoy 530 (AS) with Hi-pro Soybean meal (HBM), soy protein concentrate (SPC) and fermented soy protein (FSP)

Different superscript means significant different between treatments (P<0.05)


Figure 2- Trypsin inhibitor activity comparison between soy proteins (Compiled data from literature and unpublished internal sources)​


Figure 3- Digestible Energy (DE) of various soy proteins in weaned piglets

Different superscript means significant different between treatments (P<0.05)

(ESBM: Enzyme treated soy bean meal: AS530; AlphaSoy 530: SPC; Soy Protein Concentrate: Conv. SBM; conventional Soy bean meal) (Compiled from Navarro, 2014)


Figure 4- Performance of weaned piglets from weaning to day 22 when replacing fishmeal with either AlphaSoy or soy protein concentrate (SPC)


Figure 5- Live weight gain (LWG) and feed conversion efficiency (FCR) fed either control diet (potato protein concentrate) or increasing inclusions of ProtoCell (PC) (2.5, 5.0 and 7.5%) Day 28-36


Bruun, T.S., Vinther, J.E.N.S., Sloth, N.M. and Tybirk, P., 2014. Fordøjelighed af soja-og rapsprodukter hos smågrise. Danish Pig Production Research Centre (VSP), Copenhagen, Denmark

Navarro, D.M.D.L., 2014. Amino acid digestibility and concentration of energy in processed soybean and rapeseed products fed to pigs (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

Shen, Y. B., et al. “Effects of yeast culture supplementation on growth performance, intestinal health, and immune response of nursery pigs.” Journal of Animal Science 87.8 (2009): 2614-2624.

Varley, M.A., 2012. PigProgress – Alternatives to antibiotics – the Asian perspective [WWW Document]. Pig Prog. URL http://www.pigprogress.net/Special-Focus/Alternative-Growth-Promotion/Alternatives-to-antibiotics—the-Asian-perspective/ (accessed 5.2.17).




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