Ulcers in swine livestock (1/2)

Stomach ulcers are one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality, unrelated to infectious processes, that the industrial production of swine faces, both in reproduction as well as in finishing.
Stomach ulcers are one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality, unrelated to infectious processes, that the industrial production of swine faces, both in reproduction as well as in finishing. The prevalence of lesions related to ulcerous processes can reach up to 30-80% of the animals sacrificed, with on-farm mortalities often above 1%. Ulcers can have a high economic cost since they affect pigs at around 4 months of age. Unfortunately, the primary cause of these lesions is unknown and there are probably multiple factors involved. Therefore, there may co-exist as many explanations to the problem as technicians in the field of swine. We must take into account that there are contradictory studies on each of the factors that are indicated to cause the appearance of ulcers, and therefore the studies on ulcers should be interpreted with a certain caution. In this study, we will consider the available information to establish the bases of the problem in a reasonable manner and then we will describe the risk factors that can help to reduce the impact of this problem.

Bases of the problem

The stomach of the pig is characterized by its great fragility, in particular in the pars esophageal zone close to the cardiac region. This region of the stomach is characterized by the stratified squamous nature of the epithelium lining and the lack of secretions, which make it very vulnerable to any external aggression. The most apparent lesion is parakeratosis of diverse degrees accompanied by yellowish tinction of the mucosa due to bilious contamination. If the process continues then deeper erosions appear, there are losses of blood (white pigs) and deaths. Three common characteristics in pigs with ulcers are:
1) fluid contents in the stomach
2) reduced pH
3) high pepsine activity
The appearance of ulcers seems to be related to the increase of hydrochloric acid secretion by the parietal cells of the gastric glands together with a reduction of the protection against the autodigestion of the gastric mucosae.

Gastric ulcers are characterized by their dynamic nature, appearing and healing until disappearing in the space of a few hours. The incidence has increased in recent years probably in relation to the development of new genetic lines, the more aggressive standards of management, and the establishment of alimentation programs based on diets that do not take the harmonious development of the digestive system into account. Among the exogenous factors to be considered, genetics and digestive physiology play an important role. So, the pressure for selection of fast growth of lean seems to increase the incidence. In fact, it has been estimated that the inheritability of gastric ulcers is approximately 0.52. The second group of factors includes alimentation and the presence of pathologic processes that affect the digestive mucosa, modify the alimentation models or damage the immunity and the physiologic development of the animal. In the same way, stress, whether caused by high temperatures, unsuitable densities, poor availability of feeders and drinkers or erratic alimentation, can accelerate and intensify the process. In fact, the incidence of problems is greater in higher integrations or nuclei of large finishing herds than in smaller nuclei (different management?).

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