Gut health

Home Species Pigs
Gut health

The role of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT)

In addition to processing feed materials into absorbable nutrients and excreting waste products of digestion, the GIT prevents the entry of harmful substances and potential pathogens into the bloodstream. Microbiome research has clearly shown that the interactions between the pig and its intestinal bacterial pool depend not only on the host, but also on the entire microbiome, i.e. the microbiota and the associated bacterial metabolites. 

These metabolites affect a pig and contribute to its metabolism, influencing health, welfare and productivity. Beneficial interplay between host and microbiome is critical for maintaining host nutritional and immunological functions, while disease is often associated with microbial dysbiosis. In pigs, microbial dysbiosis is one of the causes of post-weaning diarrhoea, which globally still requires intensive use of antibiotics in animal husbandry1.

The challenge - why it is so important to maintain a healthy GIT

It is common practice to wean piglets at up to 28 days of age, however this is often a trigger for so-called post-weaning diarrhoea or post-weaning stress syndrome. Stress-induced eating depression is followed by excessive compensatory eating (overeating) after a few days. The social stress, the change of nutrition from milk to solid feed and the fluctuations in the filling of the digestive tract lead to intestinal dysbiosis (excessive growth of proteolytic bacteria such as E. coli and Clostridiodes, including numerous pathogenic strains) with the consequence of sometimes serious diarrhoea symptoms in the first weeks after weaning.

As a result, even today it is the weaners receiving the most antibiotics in pig production. In addition, the use of antibiotics in the different age categories is significantly associated with each other. This means that piglets from farms with high antibiotic use also need more antibiotics later as fattening pigs2. This leads to cost increases at the production level. Among global health problems, antimicrobial resistance resulting from the overuse of antibiotics is the one that the WHO addresses in its One Health approach.

Solutions for this challenge

There are numerous nutritional alternatives to counteract these issues. The principle of "maternal imprinting" and the feeding of pre-starter (creep) feed already in the suckling pen aim at minimising feed aversion in the weaning pen and ensuring a constant feed intake. 

  • Furthermore, the use of plant-based additives, so-called “botanicals” are ideal for giving the GIT of the animals a natural boost. The nutritionists at Kaesler Nutrition have developed the Spicemaster GH range, highly-beneficial blends of herbs, essential oils and brown algae, especially to promote intestinal health in farm animals. Spicemaster GH is also suitable for use in gestating sows and lactation feed to round off the flavour profile. 
  • Using flavours from Kaesler Nutrition’s Cuxarom range helps stimulate the appetite. Balanced milky vanilla flavours, which can also be combined with sweeteners, remind the young animals of mother’s milk, while fruit flavours can already be used in creep or pre-starter feed while the piglets are still with the sow. Using the same flavour in starter and grower feed helps maintain feed intake at a constant level (memory effect). 

The strategy of crude protein reduction aims to prevent weaning piglets from colonic dysbiosis caused by undigested protein and has additional benefits such as emission reduction. Important with feeding low-protein diets is the targeted supplementation of limiting amino acids according to the ideal protein of pigs and in consideration of the raw materials used. Using synthetic amino acids is the tool to adapt the amino acid profile accurately. 

  • Less minerals in the feed means less buffering of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which in turn facilitates digestion. By breaking down plant-bound phosphorus, Enzy Phostar, Kaesler Nutrition's 6-phytase, enables savings in mineral phosphorus and calcium in piglet feed. The heat-stable combination of xylanase and glucanase in Enzy Carboplus breaks down complex cell wall carbohydrates from cereals into shorter fragments which are then metabolised by the beneficial intestinal bacteria for energy production (prebiotic effect).

The memory and imprinting effects

Our products for gut health
  • Amino Acids

    Amino acids are vital for all living beings to build proteins. Amino acids and proteins are the building blocks of life.

    Find out more

  • Botanicals

    Using botanicals in animal feed can have a positive effect on digestion and maintain general health and well-being.

    Find out more

  • Enzymes

    Using feed enzymes is essential to improve nutrient digestibility and cost efficiency. 

    Find out more

  • Flavours

    Flavouring compounds improve the sensory characteristics of feed via active olfactory and gustatory components 

    Find out more

Need assistance?

For further information or if you need help in finding the right product or solution, please contact us.

Get in touch


1Wessels, A. G. (2022). Influence of the gut microbiome on feed intake of farm animals. Microorganisms10(7), 1305.

2 Dewulf, J., Joosten, P., Chantziaras, I., Bernaerdt, E., Vanderhaeghen, W., Postma, M., & Maes, D. (2022). Antibiotic use in European pig production: less is more. Antibiotics, 11(11), 1493.


First name *
Last name *
Company *
Country *
E-Mail address *
Department *
Message *

*Fields are mandatory

Captcha *

Information on our data processing policy can be found here.