Studies on the faecal micro-flora and micro-fauna of the young pig as influenced by diet, age and time of weaning : a thesis presented presented to the Massey University college of Manawatu in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Agricultural Science
The occurrence of chronic and acute digestive disorders of farm animals during the rearing period is an important problem. Not only do these disorders reduce the animal's food conversion efficiency, but they may result in other economic losses by lowiring the quality and qualtity of the animal product or by causing the death of the animal.
It has been established that early weaning of piglets increases the number of litters that a sow can produce during a year. However, the problem of providing the early weanted piglet with an adequate and digestible post-weaning diet is more complex than when weaning at a later age is practised.
Weaning at 3 weeks of age is commonly practised at the Massey University College of Manawatu Research Piggery. During the last 4 years scouring has been a recurrent problem in piglets just prior to weaning and up to 9 weeks of age. At times this scouring has resulted in the death of the animal. Post mortem examination of the piglets revealed a considerable amount of damage to the large intestine. Cultural and microscopic examination of the faeces of scouring piglets has failed to find a common single etiological gent which would have been responsible. In the majority of cases scouring has been accompanied by the presence in the faeces of large amounts of undigested starch and large numbers lf Balantidium coli. There were indications that weaning at 6 weeks of age lowered the incidence of scours.
The trial reported in this thesis was conducted at the Research Piggery and the Veterinary Pathology and Animal Physiology Department of the Massey University College of Manawatu. The principle objective was to study the changes which occured in the flora and fauna of the large intestine during the early growth of the pig, comparing early and late weaning. Also, to see if these changes are related to the digestive disturbances which have been found to occur in piglets at the Research Piggery. For economic reasons it was not possible to sacrifice piglets of this age in order to examine the large intestine and its contents as was originally planned. Recourse had to be made to the collection and examination of faecal samples.