Pig health supplement, a marine-based solution

Improving gastric health should be a top priority for any producer – and one solution lies in an Icelandic source of organic marine algae source.

The prevalence of gastric ulcers in pigs has been getting a lot of attention in recent years. Gastric ulcers are classified as severe inflammation, lesions or actual ulceration of the upper, inner part (par oesophagus) of the pig’s stomach. “Unlike the rest of the stomach, this area is not protected by a mucus coating and therefore less able to withstand acidic conditions that can lead to the formation of stomach lesions and ulcers,” said Dr Meike Bouwhuis, technical manager monogastrics at Celtic Sea Minerals.

“As stomach ulcers not only impair the health and welfare of pigs but can also have a substantial impact on performance and overall pig profitability, improving gastric health should be a top priority for any producer.”

A research study in England from 2012 assessing the stomachs of 9,827 finishing pigs from over 60 farms showed that over 79% of stomachs had either an oesophagogastric ulcer or visible pre-ulcerative changes. This research is further supported by research set out in Table 1 that highlights the high prevalence of ulcers across Europe, showing the widespread nature of the issue.

Table 1: Prevalence of gastric lesions in pigs by region (Canibe et al., 2016)
Gastric ulcers pigs

Symptoms of Gastric Ulcers

Gastric scoring system pigs
Figure 1: Gastric scoring system (Nielsen & Ingvartsen, 2000)

“The general belief is that the increase in gastric ulcers was associated with the intensification of pig production, improvement in leaner genetic lines and increasing stocking densities in the 1950s,” Dr Bouwhuis explained.

Continued intensification in subsequent decades is thought to have resulted in a further increase in the occurrence and prevalence of gastric ulcers. The cause has been associated with particle size, pelleting,
feed availability and stress. Symptoms of ulcers in pigs can include restless behaviour, loss of body condition and reduced intakes. In extreme cases, haemorrhaging or sudden deaths can occur.

“There is little doubt that gastric lesions or ulcerations will cause discomfort and pain in pigs, but it remains unclear at what point symptoms will begin to show,” Dr Bouwhuis added. “The end result is poor animal health and welfare and significant financial losses on farm.” It is also suggested that the pain and agitation caused by gastric problems can trigger other behavioural issues such as tail, flank, or ear biting.

Nutritional Solution

Close attention to nutrition can have a big impact on improving gastric health. It has been proven in over 20 in vivo studies worldwide that CeltiCal, an Icelandic source of organic marine algae, can be used as a replacement to limestone.

“Multiple studies have shown that CeltiCal consistently increases the health of pig stomachs and reduces the severity of gastric lesions and inflammation significantly. We also see an increase in growth performance, improved feed conversion and reduced mortality,” said Dr Bouwhuis.

CeltiCal, distributed solely by AB Vista in the UK and Ireland, controls the negative impact of gastric acid on the very upper part of the pig’s stomach and protects the para-oesophagus region from acid erosion and ulceration. Its unique matrix solubilises more rapidly than limestone, offering a quick release of its mineral content to the animal.

CeltiCal does not continue to solubilise further down the digestive tract and raise the pH – an issue that is often overlooked with limestone. The consequence is a more acidic and suitable environment for a pig’s natural digestive enzymes to work in the intestines which leads to an increase in performance for example a 0.1 improvement in FCR was observed in a recent South African study.

“Alongside its numerous gastric health benefits, CeltiCal also has a desirable mineral profile,” said Dr Bouwuis. “The bioavailability of these minerals is consistently close to 100% due to its marine source, unlike limestone, which can be highly variable.” CeltiCal has a similar calcium content to limestone (Table 2). However, due to this higher bioavailability, total dietary calcium can be reduced by 0.1-0.2%. CeltiCal should be fed at 4-5kg/T in place of limestone for fattening pigs, sows and piglets.

Table 2: Mineral profile of CeltiCal
CeltiCal Specification by Celtic Sea Minerals
This article was published by the British magazine Pig World I Editor Josh Rymer, Sales Manager AB Vista I August Edition 2020, page 26

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