SFR contributes to EU-project to find alternatives for colistin and zinc oxide in pig production

Publication date: 03-08-2020

Schothorst Feed Research proudly presents their participation in a five-year EU-project aimed at finding Alternatives to Veterinary ANTimicrobials (AVANT), in particular for those used to treat piglet diarrhoea caused by enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC). In the AVANT project, SFR collaborates with 13 partner organizations from nine countries, including the University of Copenhagen, Biomin, the Royal Veterinary College and Wageningen Livestock Research.

The project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
AVANT tests a large range of alternatives, including 1) gut microbiome modulators including synbiotic products and faecal microbiota transplantation, 2) products containing bacteriophages and polymers for targeted treatment of ETEC infections, as well as 3) injectable and feed additive immunostimulants, and 4) novel feeding strategies for sows and piglets. During preclinical studies, efficacy, safety and mode of action of these interventions are tested. Subsequently three interventions will be selected for large-scale clinical trials in three EU countries. The results from these trials will be used to estimate the reduction in antimicrobial use if these alternatives are widely adopted across Europe.

“AVANT fits perfectly with the vision of SFR to responsibly and efficiently feed the world by developing and implementing nutritional knowledge. The wide innovation potential of AVANT will have a huge impact on the use of antimicrobials, and consequently on animal welfare and public health, at international level.”, said Dr. Francesc Molist, R&D Manager at SFR.

The role of SFR in AVANT
SFR leads the work package on feeding strategies in order to get new insights on what role for example fiber can play in the diet to improve the health status of pre- and post-weaning piglets and therefore reduce the utilization of antibiotics. Moreover, SFR will help multiple partners in the AVANT project to test some of their solutions under controlled and defined conditions. SFR will also play an important role in clinical trials by validating some possible solutions against enteric disorders as well as assisting with the dissemination of the results to the feeding industry.

Feeding strategies in sows to reduce piglet diarrhoea
Currently the first trial of AVANT has started at SFR. In this trial, we apply novel feeding strategies in sows around farrowing with the aim to reduce piglet diarrhoea. Pre-weaning piglet diarrhoea caused by ETEC mainly occurs in the first week of life. This suggests that the transfer of gut microbiota from the sow to the piglet could play a very important role in piglet gut health during this period, which was supported by recent findings at SFR. Moreover, previous studies from other institutions have shown that piglets that developed diarrhoea in the post-weaning period already differed in their gut microbiome from healthy piglets as early as 7 days of age. The early gut microbiome of piglets therefore also plays an important role in the later life risk of diarrhoea. The expectation is that feeding the sow a transition diet with the right fibre balance will help to modify the gut microbiome of the sows around farrowing and will positively affect the gut health of their piglets. As a result, reducing piglet diarrhoea and with it the use of antibiotics.

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