Phytobiotics: Sit Back & Relax - Isoquinoline Alkaloids Have A Positive Impact On Stress
Plant-derived isoquinoline alkaloids have been shown to have a positive impact on gut integrity due to ‑‑ their anti-inflammatory properties.
Pigs are exposed to several stressors, ranging from farrowing to weaning and transportation.
As stress, animal welfare and food safety are linked, nutritional interventions targeting these issues make a powerful tool.
Stress is the body's response to stressors and goes along with increased levels of catecholamines (i.e., adrenaline) and glucocorticoids (i.e., cortisol). The gastrointestinal tract is affected as well; gastric emptying is inhibited, while gastric acid production is reduced, and intestinal motility and permeability increase.
Consequently, the microflora composition is disturbed and pathogens, such as salmonella, get the chance to multiply and manifest themselves, posing a threat to food safety.
The stress response is also linked to oxidative stress and inflammation. As a result, the gut barrier function is further disturbed and deteriorated.
Pigs are faced with a variety of stress during their life span. While for sows farrowing is considered a major stressful event, piglets are subjected to weaning stress which is induced by a sudden separation from the sow, a new environment, management and diet as well as social stress. As a result, stress goes hand in hand with inflammation and leads to morphological changes in the small intestine, diminished digestion capacity and impaired gut barrier function.
Consequently, a reduced feed intake, a higher risk for diarrhoea and retarded growth might be observed (Tang et al., 2022).
Specifically, for growing and fattening pigs, transportation is considered a very stressful event as pigs must cope with various stressors, such as loading and unloading the animals to an unknown environment in a short period.
Salmonella shedding can be enhanced due to stress-bearing significance for food safety and highlighting the importance of optimal transport management for the control of salmonella contamination.
Plant-derived isoquinoline alkaloids (IQs, provided as Sangrovit® by Phytobiotics) have been shown to have a positive impact on gut integrity due to their anti-inflammatory properties.
Several studies were conducted to evaluate the effect of IQs on cortisol levels in swine. In one study, the effect of transportation stress and salmonella shedding was examined.
Studies show efficacy of plant-based solution in reducing cortisol levels in pigs In a study conducted in Thailand, 90 Yorkshire x Landrace sows with an initial average body weight of 211kg (second and third parity) were fed three diets: chlortetracycline (CTC) control, a CTC diet with a low inclusion rate of Sangrovit® and a CTC diet with a high inclusion rate of Sangrovit®. Diets were fed two weeks prior to farrowing until weaning on day 21.
IQs significantly decreased blood cortisol levels in both inclusion rates (Fig. 1). C reactive protein, an inflammation indicator, as well as fertility parameters, were also positively influenced by Sangrovit® supplementation.
In a second Thailand-based study, 120 crossbred weaned piglets (Landrace x Large White x Duroc) at the age of four weeks were subjected to either a control diet or a diet supplemented with Sangrovit® for a period of 35 days. Blood cortisol was evaluated at the end of the trial and was numerically decreased in the IQs-supplemented group (Fig. 2). In addition, piglets fed IQs benefited from increased feed intake, daily weight gain, improved feed conversion ratio and better mortality rate.
A US trial evaluated the effect of Sangrovit® in finishing pigs experiencing transportation stress and the potential benefits on food safety.
Eighty-two Landrace x Berkshire barrows and gilts with an initial body weight of 47.9kg were orally challenged on trial day zero and nine with 15ml of a salmonella cocktail (108 CFU/ml). 14 days post-challenge, pigs were assigned to one of three treatments: control, Sangrovit® low, and Sangrovit® high for a trial period of 28 days.
On the final day, pigs were transported to a slaughterhouse, and salivary cortisol levels were assessed before and after transportation.
While cortisol levels in the control group increased significantly after transportation, cortisol levels in the IQs groups did not increase significantly and remained close to pre-transport levels (Fig. 3). As a result, only pigs in the control group showed a significant increase in faecal salmonella prevalence and carcass counts.
This trial highlights the benefits of proven plant-based feed additives to mitigate stressful events in pig production and underlines the significance of stress management for food safety.
Pigs are exposed to various stressors during their life span with detrimental effects on well-being, performance and food safety.
Nutritional solutions based on science are keeping pace with this issue. Here, isoquinoline alkaloids provided in the form of Sangrovit® offer a tool to manage and mitigate this challenge.
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Article made possible through the contribution of Phytobiotics Futterzusatzstoffe GmbH, Germany