Project news Gut health in pigs: new research and service platform

The sow's diet can have a major impact on piglet performance; how the gut plays a role in this is being investigated.

Gaining more insight into the underlying mechanisms of zootechnical performance, health and nitrogen emission in pigs through intestinal health research is the goal of the recently launched BigDarm platform. Knowledge about the gut microbiome, metabolomics, epigenetics and classical performance characteristics, among other things, is being pooled. This will lift research to a higher level.

The gut microbiome as the key

The research project BIGDARM is the start of a new Belgian multidisciplinary platform for research on intestinal health in pigs. The aim is to unravel even better the deeper mechanisms as a function of performance, health and N-emission of pigs. In this way, both ILVO research and services to companies can be given a new dimension. The gut microbiome is a central actor in many issues of agricultural and nutritional research, but especially for antibiotic use and resistance.

Influence of diet on gut microbiota

The platform brings together a multidisciplinary knowledge pool in collaboration with Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, consisting of metagenomics of the gut microbiota, (animal and bacterial) metabolomics and animal epigenetics, combined with classical animal performance characteristics. In a pilot project, the platform addresses the questions:

  1. How does a sow's diet (with reduced crude protein content) affect the gut and piglet performance in the longer term (up to slaughter age)? What role does the gut microbiota play in this?
  2. To what extent does a mismatch occur when piglets are fed a diet rich in protein at a later age? What role does the gut microbiota play in this?

Project title: BigDarm

Term: 2018-2021

Funding: ILVO & Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech

Partner: Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech


Contact us

Marc Heyndrickx

ILVO scientific director, Food Science

Sam Millet

Expert in pig feed and zootechnology

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