Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Minor, Radiah C.


Post Weaning Diarrhea (PWD) is a leading cause of mortality in piglets during the first two weeks of weaning. According to the Fairbrother, Nadeau et al. (2005) report, PWD is a major gastrointestinal disease caused by stress, pathogenic intestinal bacteria and immature immune responses. Antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) are used to combat PWD but there is public concern surrounding their use (Casewell, Friis, Marco, McMullin, & Phillips, 2003). The purpose of this study is to investigate natural alternatives to AGP that prevent PWD. Therefore, we designed a study whereby yeast culture and oat were fed to sows during the last 30 days of gestation and during lactation in hopes to enhance the intestinal microbiota and overall post wean performance of their offspring. Piglet feed intake was monitored from birth until 14 days post weaning. The total feed consumed in week 1 and 2 post weaning showed no significant difference between all the piglets. This data suggests that feeding a CON+YC, CON+O, or CON+YC+O diet to gestational sows 30 days prior to farrowing may not affect feed intake. Piglet weight gains were evaluated on day of farrowing, day of weaning, and days 1, 4, 7, and 14 post weaning. The piglets whose mothers consumed oats weighed the most at birth and lost the least amount of weight during the post-weaning period. This suggests that feeding sows a diet containing oat may be better for sustaining growth of her piglets. The fecal scores were recorded on day 0, 7 and 14. On day seven, fecal scores of piglets born of sows on oat supplemented diet were significantly less than those born of sows that consumed control and yeast+ oat diets. This observation suggests that feeding sows a diet consisting of 15% oat may prevent post wean diarrhea in their offspring during weaning. Fecal samples were collected from all 16 of the sows on day 84 of gestation, farrowing day, and weaning day. Samples were collected from the colon of the sows. During farrowing day sows from the CON+YC+O diet had an Escherichia coli bacteria count that was significantly lower than CON+YC and CON+O and highly significantly lower than the sows on CON diets alone. Further, by weaning day sows feed CON +YC+O had significantly lower than Escherichia coli than those fed CON or CON+YC. This suggests that feeding sows 5g/kg Diamond V Mills Yeast Culture together with 15% oat during the last 30 days of gestation may have an impact on Escherichia coli population in the gut. In addition, it was observed that the Staphylococcus aureus population in the colon of sows fed CON+O had decreased from the introduction of the diet on day 84 of gestation until farrowing day, and was undetectable by day of weaning. This data suggests that feeding sows a diet consisting of CON+O during gestation and lactation may help protect against colonization of the gut with Staphylococcus aureus in sows. Genotyping by polymerase chain reaction was also performed to identify and compare the presence of shiga toxin-producing (Stx) Escherichia coli. By qualitative analysis we detected fewer colonies of toxigenic E.coli in all of the diet groups as compared to control. This suggest that feeding sows a diet supplemented with either 15% oat, Diamond V. Mills Yeast Culture separate or in combination as a synbiotic may help in preventing gut colonization with high population of shiga toxin producing Escherichia coli. Together these data suggest that feeding sows a diet containing oat alone or together with YC during gestation and lactation may help promote healthy gut colonization in the sows and help protect their offspring from developing post weaning diarrhea.