The influence of probiotic use in sows and neonatal piglets on performance measures and diarrhoea in suckling piglets.
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The European ban on antibiotics use as a growth promoter in feed, has left the pig industry seeking viable alternatives to prevent losses due to illness and suboptimal growth. Probiotics are already in widespread use in the livestock, poultry and companion animal sectors as an aid in treatment and as a promoter of intestinal health. The objective of this systematic review was to search the published literature to evaluate the effect of probiotic use in gestating sows and neonates on performance and health outcomes in piglets up until weaning. Nineteen clinical trials met the inclusion criteria and were included in this review. Probiotic type, timing and duration of administration, outcome measures and hygiene status varied among the studies. Four studies administered probiotics only to the dam; seven studies to the dam and in the creep feed to the piglets; in seven studies probiotics were given to the piglet within 7 days of birth; and in one study a combination of all three scenarios was used. The organisms, methodologies and reporting for the studies were diverse. Variation in detail of reporting and in methodological factors such as cross fostering and duration of treatment, make comparisons difficult. Specific probiotics such as Bacillus spp bacteria showed promising results but the limited number of studies per strain do not allow for definitive conclusions of the effect on performance measures in piglets.