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Maternal supplementation with Bacillus altitudinis spores improves porcine offspring growth performance and carcass weight

Researchers at Teagasc Pig Development Department & Waterford Institute of Technology recently published the results of a study. The study evaluated the effect of feeding Bacillus altitudinis spores to sows and/or offspring on growth and health indicators. The study showed some economic advantages


A ban on the preventive use of antibiotics in groups of animals and via medicated feed as well as a ban on the use of pharmacological levels of zinc oxide have come into force in the European Union in 2022. As a result, alternative treatments, such as probiotics, will be of increased importance in the future. Probiotics not only control pathogens, but they can also improve pig growth and feed efficiency.


The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of feeding Bacillus altitudinis spores to sows and/or offspring on growth and health indicators


On day (D) 100 of gestation, twenty-four sows were selected and grouped as: control (CON), fed with a standard diet; and probiotic (PRO), fed the standard diet supplemented with B. altitudinis WIT588 spores from D100 of gestation until weaning. Offspring (n 144) from each of the two sow treatments were assigned to either a CON (no probiotic) or PRO (B. altitudinis-supplemented) treatment for 28 d post-weaning (pw), resulting in four treatment groups:

  1. CON/CON, non-probiotic-supplemented sow/non-probiotic-supplemented piglet
  2. CON/PRO, non-probiotic-supplemented sow/probiotic-supplemented piglet
  3. PRO/CON, probiotic-supplemented sow/non-probiotic-supplemented piglet
  4. PRO/PRO, probiotic-supplemented sow/probiotic-supplemented piglet.


B.altitudinis WIT588 was detected in the faeces of probiotic-supplemented sows and their piglets, and in the faeces and intestine of probiotic-supplemented piglets.

Colostrum from PRO sows had higher total solids (P = 0·02), protein (P = 0·04) and true protein (P = 0·05), and lower lactose (P < 0·01) than colostrum from CON sows.

Maternal treatment improved offspring feed conversion ratio at D0–14 pw (P < 0·001) and increased offspring body weight at D105 and D127 pw (P = 0·01), carcass weight (P = 0·05) and kill-out percentage (P < 0·01). It also increased small intestinal absorptive capacity and impacted the haematological profile of sows and progeny. There was little impact of pw treatment on any of the parameters measured.


Overall, the lifetime growth benefits in the offspring of B. altitudinis-supplemented sows offer considerable economic advantages for pig producers in search of alternatives to in-feed antibiotics/zinc oxide.

Read the full article here

Figure 1:Fig1 Pig article August 12.

Intestinal morphology of duodenum sections taken on day 8 post-weaning from piglets born to sows receiving the Bacillus altitudinis WT588-supplemented diet (a) or a control diet (b). The black line shows the villous height measurement. Box plots show the significant effects of the maternal treatment on the crypt depth (c) and villous height (d) of the duodenum of the offspring. Significant differences between treatments are indicated as ** (P ≤ 0·01) and * (0·01 < P ≤ 0·05).