November 16, 2020

Interpretive Summary: Canola meal in nursery pig diets: growth performance and gut health

Interpretive Summary: Canola meal in nursery pig diets: growth performance and gut health

By: Anne Kamiya, MS

The postweaning period is an extremely stressful time for piglets. External and internal stressors contribute to oxidative stress and serious health problems like infection, diarrhea, systemic inflammation and reduced growth performance. Potential ways to combat these health issues may be intertwined with finding ways to improve gut health.  

In this recent Journal of Animal Science study, researchers evaluated whether canola meal (CM) might benefit the growth performance and gut health of nursery pigs. Canola meal contains a lot of insoluble fiber, which is known to benefit the gut microbiota, and glucosinolates, an antioxidant. However, too much insoluble fiber or glucosinolates can also hinder growth performance, so finding a balance is needed. Researchers hypothesized that feeding CM to nursery pigs would improve growth performance and benefit digestive health by decreasing intestinal permeability and improving the gut microbiota.

Nursery pigs were fed one of five different diets containing between 0 to 40% CM, increasing by intervals of 10%. Piglets fed more CM, up to 20%, had increased average daily gain (ADG), gain to feed ratio and body weight. Serum IgA and gut microbiota composition also improved (Bacteroidetes decreased while Firmicutes increased). All of these changes suggest there was a benefit to piglet health by adding CM to their feed. Unexpectedly, intestinal permeability increased with more CM. The authors noted no benefit in feeding piglets CM greater than a 20% concentration of feed, when compared to the control diet (0% CM).

Overall, the results of this study suggest that including CM in piglet feed (no more than 20%) may improve growth performance and gut microbiota composition. However, gut permeability also increased with more CM, with unknown health impacts. More in-depth studies into the benefits of CM, and the effects glucosinolates have on gut permeability and gut microbiota composition in nursery piglets is warranted.

The original article, Canola meal in nursery pig diets: growth performance and gut health, will soon be available in the Journal of Animal Science.