Feed Safety and Quality in Swine


For swine producers who manage their own feed or use liquid feeding systems, maintaining low microbial levels and high nutritional value is crucial. This is particularly vital when incorporating liquid by-products from the food industry, prone to yeast-induced degradation. Harmful microbes like molds and Salmonella can hinder animal performance and mycotoxin-producing molds can harm the gut and immunity. Implementing strategies for feed hygiene, safe water, and quality is essential to mitigate these risks.

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Maintaining ingredient quality and feed preservation

The quality of raw materials used in feed is always at risk from physical, chemical and especially microbiological issues, including bacteria, moulds, yeasts and mycotoxins. These microbes not only affect the nutritional quality of feed but may also lead to reduced pig performance.

Mycotoxin contamination poses a particular risk, since it can cause clinical or subclinical symptoms that result in reduced productivity, suppressed immunity and various pathological effects on organs and tissues. Microbes such as Salmonella also have public health implications for humans. Controlling the level of feed safety often demands an integrated approach, with monitoring at each part of the feed supply chain.


A pig’s gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is constantly in touch with feed-borne mycotoxins, from the oral cavity all the way to the large intestine. Generally, the intestinal barrier in the GIT functions as a filter against these harmful mycotoxins. However, some mycotoxins have been found to exert their detrimental effects in the GIT, for example, altering normal intestinal functions like the barrier function and nutrient absorption. Some mycotoxins also affect the histomorphology of the intestines. As the feed gets digested at different levels of the GIT, mycotoxins get released into the intestinal lumen and absorbed into blood circulation, through which they can reach the liver and other organs, resulting in toxicity. Sound gut health is critical to preventing toxicity.

The most underrated negative effects of mycotoxins in swine are on the immune system. The immune system is broadly classified into three types: innate (macrophages/dendritic cells), cell-mediated (DTH, cytotoxic T cells) and antibody-mediated (B cells, T helper cells, antibodies). Mycotoxins are known to affect all these arms of the immune system, making animals more susceptible to bacterial, viral and protozoan infections.

All of the key mycotoxins have significant negative effects on gut integrity and immunity, and also affect overall performance. Although inorganic adsorbents such as bentonites can effectively bind aflatoxins, ergot toxins and bacterial (endo) toxins in the intestine, they only have moderate binding to T-2 toxin, ZEA and OTA. DON and fumonisins are not easy to bind. Relying only on a mycotoxin binding strategy may not adequately protect the animal – there is a need for ingredients capable of improving immune- and gut health. In addition, since animal feed is usually contaminated with multiple mycotoxins, a broad-spectrum solution will help to better safeguard your business.

Liquid feeding

Liquid feeding systems for pigs have become popular in Europe and are emerging in other countries around the globe. This method of feeding involves computer-controlled feed production, mixing dry ingredients with either ethanol, water, or liquid by-products from brewing or other food industry processes. Re-using food by-products enables swine farmers to produce high-quality protein in a sustainable and cost-effective way. Liquid feed requires specific processing and storage systems to ensure that the feed remains homogenous and free from contamination. It is essential to prevent separation or settling of feed ingredients during storage, which could lead to inconsistent nutrient intake by pigs.

However, once mixing occurs, microbial proliferation begins. Harmful microbes such as yeasts, moulds and enterobacteria thrive in high-moisture feed, and, if not controlled, can cause nutritional losses and impact animal health. This is why it’s essential to put in place integrated solutions that include farm hygiene practices, microbial analysis, effective treatment solutions, and treatment of residue in liquid feeding systems.