Farm and Field

Pig probiotics prove promising

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 28, 2020 12:01 am

Recent regulatory restrictions around antibiotic use in livestock challenge the feed industry, but research from the University of Illinois shows a probiotic product, Clostridium butyricum, can achieve the same growth-promoting results as antibiotics.

"Not being able to use antibiotics, these probiotics or direct-fed-microbials are being used more and more. We have worked with DFMs for the last 10 years and have consistently observed increased growth performance in pigs," said Hans Stein, U of I professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and co-author of the study.

Stein and his co-authors fed five diets to pigs -- a control diet with no antibiotics and no Clostridium butyricum; a control diet with standard antibiotics added; and experimental diets with 1,250, 2,500 and 3,500 cfu per kilogram of Clostridium butyricum added.

"Pigs had better growth performance when we added Clostridium butyricum to the diets compared with the control diet with no antibiotic. And growth performance was the same for the experimental diets as the antibiotic control diet," Stein said. "These results indicate Clostridium butyricum may be used to partially or fully restore the growth performance lost when antibiotic growth promoters are removed from diets for weanling pigs."

The team noted a drop-off in benefits as the inclusion rate of Clostridium butyricum went up, concluding that a dose of 1,250 cfu per kilogram is sufficient to attain increased growth performance in weanling pigs.

"These DFMs, including Clostridium butyricum, seem to have pretty consistent positive effects in diets for young pigs," Stein said. "I think there's a good reason they're being used more and more in the industry. It's a good return on investment if you add them to the diet."

Blistering beauty

The buttercup's beauty belies its blistering poison.

University of Missouri Extension field specialist in agronomy Sarah Kenyon said all parts of the perennial pasture crop are poisonous to cattle.

Buttercup, the name given to species in the genus Ranuculus, is short-lived, flowering from March to August. It emerges during the fall and winter and makes a low-growing thick carpet. It bolts in early spring and produces a shiny, five-petal flower with crowfoot-shaped leaves divided into three sections.

When cattle and other livestock eat buttercup, its toxins blister the mouth and cause gastrointestinal irritation. "Because of the immediate effects, livestock tend to avoid the plant," Kenyon said.

Buttercup's toxins volatilize when dried, so it is less toxic in dried hay. Call a veterinarian immediately if poisoning is suspected, and remove livestock from the grazing area until all poisonous plants have been destroyed.

Properly timed herbicide application helps eliminate buttercup. Spray in the spring before flowering. Applying herbicides now will not produce control, Kenyon said.

One of the best ways to prevent buttercup in pastures is to maintain good pasture stands, MU Extension agronomist Anthony Ohmes said. Buttercup is more common in continuously grazed pastures, especially in overgrazed areas.

For more information on pasture weed management, contact a regional MU Extension agronomist or review MU weed scientist Kevin Bradley's abstract, "Weed and Brush Control for Forages, Pastures and Noncropland" at extension2.missouri.edu/pm1031.