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Animals 2019, 9(3), 76;

Development and Function of the Intestinal Microbiome and Potential Implications for Pig Production

School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Roseworthy SA 5400, Australia
SunPork Solutions, Shea-oak Log SA 5371, Australia
School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 January 2019 / Accepted: 20 February 2019 / Published: 28 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Pig)
PDF [233 KB, uploaded 28 February 2019]

Simple Summary

Piglet preweaning mortality is a major economic loss and welfare concern for the global pork industry, with the industry average sitting at approximately 15%. As such, novel methods for reducing this mortality are needed. Since research into the intestinal microbiota has provided advances in human health, in particular the impact of early life factors, it was the logical next step to synthesise the existing literature to determine the potential relevance to the pig industry. It is evident from the literature that this area of research provides promising results. However, a large gap within the literature currently exists within the lactation period in pigs. Since optimal development within early life is proving to be critical for human infants, it is crucial that further research is invested into understanding the impact of early life events on a piglet’s microbiome. It is hoped that this review will enable access to critical information for those interested in the microbiome and its potential for improving herd health on the farm.


The intestinal microbiota has received a lot of attention in recent times due to its essential role in the immune system development and function. Recent work in humans has demonstrated that the first year of life is the most critical time period for microbiome development with perturbations during this time being proven to have long term health consequences. In this review, we describe the literature surrounding early life events in humans and mice that contribute to intestinal microbiota development and function, and compare this to piglets predominantly during their lactation period, which focuses on the impact lactation management practices may have on the intestinal microbiota. Although extensive research has been conducted in this area in humans and mice, little research exists in pigs during perceivably the most critical time period of development, which is the lactation period. The research reviewed outlines the importance of appropriate intestinal microbiota development. However, further research is needed in order to understand the full extent routine farm practices have on a piglet’s intestinal microbiota. View Full-Text
Keywords: intestinal microbiota; neonatal environment; management; piglet; performance intestinal microbiota; neonatal environment; management; piglet; performance
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Nowland, T.L.; Plush, K.J.; Barton, M.; Kirkwood, R.N. Development and Function of the Intestinal Microbiome and Potential Implications for Pig Production. Animals 2019, 9, 76.

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