Feeding a live yeast to alleviate the impact of heat stress in pigs could help mitigate the effect of summer temperatures on feeding behaviour.
With temperatures climbing beyond 20°C in recent weeks, heat stress has prompted concerns about lower feed intakes, growth rates and animal welfare – on top of the challenges already faced by pig producers.
The live yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii CNCM I-1079 can help alleviate the effects of heat stress by manipulating the microbiome to improve overall gut health, says Hannah Elliott, of Lallemand Animal Nutrition.
“Scientists have shown a relationship between the gut microbial composition and the pig’s metabolic adaptation to heat stress. Manipulating the microbiome can preserve feeding behaviour, energy utilisation, and ultimately growth performance.”
A trial to evaluate the impact of heat stress on the energetic metabolism and feeding behaviour was conducted by Lallemand Animal Nutrition in partnership with French company INRAE Pegase.
Ten finishing boars were housed for 20 days in respiration chambers for seven days at 22°C. They were then housed under heat stress conditions for seven plus six days at 28°C). Pigs were fed a diet either with or without a live yeast.
Pigs fed the live yeast Levucell SB were found to have higher levels of positive bacteria present, says Ms Elliott. This correlated with higher dry matter intake and energy retention, she adds.
The trial also evaluated the benefit of Saccharomyces c. boulardii CNCM I-1079 on pig metabolism. Results highlighted the benefits of feeding the live yeast, indicating positive outcomes for animal welfare, metabolism and performance.
“While heat stress decreased feed intake in all animals, the pigs fed the live yeast showed higher feed intakes due to larger numbers of meals per day and longer meal duration compared to the control group.”
At the end of the trial, feed intake was also more stable in these pigs. The Levucell SB-fed pigs had lower skin temperatures compared to the control pigs – and had increased energy retention under heat stress too.
Ms Elliott says this could be explained in part by the improved gut microbiota balance. Growth performance was better preserved when feeding the live yeast under heat stress, with average daily weight gain increasing from 1.14kg to 1.28kg.