A common type of bacteria may help pigs stay healthy during weaning.
In a study of 36 weanling-age pigs, researchers found that a dose of lipid-producing Rhodococcus opacus bacteria increased circulating triglycerides, which are a crucial source of energy for the immune system.
“We could potentially strengthen the immune system by providing this bacterium to animals at a stage when they are in need of additional energy,” said Janet Donaldson, assistant professor in biological sciences at Mississippi State University.
Donaldson and other researchers tested R. opacus because the bacterium naturally makes large amounts of triglycerides. Normally, it would use the triglycerides for its own energy, but a pig can use the triglycerides too.
Jeff Carroll, research leader for the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Livestock Issues Research Unit in Lubbock, Texas, said R. opacus could be used sort of like an energy producing probiotic.
He said weanling pigs are more susceptible to pathogens and stress because they have to adjust to a new diet and environment while their immune system is immature.
Donaldson said producers might someday be able to provide R. opacus to their pigs through existing watering systems.
Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science.