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Swine diets supplemented with fish oil and spray-dried plasma may boost immunity in piglets and eliminate the use of growth-promoting antibiotics in piglets younger than 21 days, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service reported today. Researchers at the ARS Livestock Issues Research Unit in Lubbock, Texas, have been testing spray-dried plasma (a byproduct of the meat-packing industry), fish oil and other nutritional supplements to find an alternative to antibiotics.
The researchers have found that these supplemented diets have boosted the piglets’ immune systems while maintaining a commercially-viable growth rate.
The researchers suspect the plasma may prevent pathogens from binding in the intestines, thus boosting immunity. The researchers have been starting with a 5- to 7-percent plasma ration, gradually reducing as the piglets (and their immunity systems) mature.
The researchers are also using a 7-percent mixture of menhaden fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, in the rations.