It is common to say that weaning is a challenging phase for piglets. Nevertheless, one of the most critical phases in the life of good-performing pigs starts much before, during gestation, until the neonatal phase, a period during which maternal imprinting is key. The early influence of the sow on their piglets, occurring even before piglets’ birth, can produce a profound and long-lasting impact on the offspring, that goes much beyond weaning. This includes the beneficial effects of feeding probiotic S. cerevisiae boulardii CNCM-I-1079 (LEVUCELL SB) to the sow.
Shaping sows and piglets microbiota
Early microbiota establishment is key for the development of intestinal functions.
Le Floch et al. showed that sows supplemented with LEVUCELL SB will have a different microbiota profile than non-supplemented sows. Piglets born from sows supplemented with LEVUCELL SB will also exhibit different microbiota profiles. Another study, conducted by Achard et al., in 2019, showed that this maternal microbial imprinting has a long-lasting effect in piglets, that can still be visible 20 days after weaning (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Piglet microbiota modulation 20 days after weaning when supplementing sows with S.c. boulardii CNCM I-1079 – Achard et al., 2019
Other researchers have shown that the probiotic yeast, when supplemented to sows’ diet, also positively influenced the offspring’s immunity through several distinct mechanisms, such as improved colostrum quality and piglet immune response modulation: these effects are also proof of maternal imprinting.
Long-term benefits on piglet’s performance
In the trial by Achard et al, growth performance of piglets born from LEVUCELL SB-fed sows were also improved several weeks post-weaning (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Influence of S.c. boulardii CNCM I-1079 supplementation to sows on the average daily gain of their piglets after weaning – Achard et al., 2019
In conclusion, by positively affecting the gut microbiota from the sow to her piglets and supporting their immune system development, probiotics, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii CNCM-I-1079, are interesting tools to support piglet quality and reducing antibiotic use.