Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) have strong antibacterial activity against Gram-positive cocci and Escherichia coli. Similarly, postweaning gut development, performance and health can also be improved by the supplement of probiotics of bacterial origin. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of MCFA and/or probiotic (Enterococcus faecium) supplements on piglet performance, intestine structure, and microbiology. Piglets (271 piglets of Polish Landrace) were allocated to three groups with eight litters in each (24 litters in total), kept in group pens, and fed the standard feed mixture (negative control, group I). The same mixture supplemented with 0.3% of caprylic (octanoic—C8) or 0.3% of capric (decanoic—C10) acids was given to groups II and III, respectively. In each group, half the animals received Enterococcus faecium (0.35x109 CFU/kg feed). Feed and water were available ad libitum. Piglets were weaned at 28 days of life. At 60 days of life, 6 piglets from each subgroup were slaughtered and their intestines were investigated. Digesta from digestive tract was removed and the length and weight of particular parts of intestines were measured. The structure of the ileum mucosal epithelium was examined. Acidity of digesta and short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) content of chyme from jejunum and cecum were analyzed. Escherichia coli and Clostridium perfringens counts in these parts of intestines were also estimated.
Capric acid improved piglet body weight gain after the 28th day of life. Probiotic lowered the weight gain from 28th to 56th day but increased it later. There was no difference in feed intake, and feed utilization was improved only by probiotic in the last period of the experiment. Probiotic increased pH in the small intestine and colon and significantly increased the amount of acetic acid in cecum. Capric acid reduced the total length of the intestines. Probiotic had no effect on intestines’ mass and length, but it increased villi width and crypt depth in the epithelium of small intestine. MCFA had no effect on these qualities. Both supplements had strong antibacterial activity: acids against E. coli and probiotic against C. perfringens.
Hanczakowska, E., Świątkiewicz, M., Natonek-Wiśniewska, M., & Okoń, K. (2016). Medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) and/or probiotic Enterococcus faecium as a feed supplement for piglets. Livestock Science, 192, 1-7. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2016.08.002