Pork is an important source of human salmonellosis and low-cost on-farm control measures may provide a useful element in reducing the prevalence of this pathogen in food.
This study investigated the effectiveness of dietary supplementation with sodium butyrate administered to finisher pigs for ∼4-weeks prior to slaughter to control Salmonella shedding on highly contaminated farms.
Two trials (A and B) were conducted on two commercial pig farms, which had a history of high Salmonella seroprevalence. In both trials, pens (14 pens of 12 pigs/pen in Trial A and 12 pens of 12-17 pigs/pen in Trial B) were randomly assigned to a control (finisher feed without additive) or a treatment group (the same feed with 3kg sodium butyrate/t) for 24-28days, depending on the trial. Faeces were collected from each pig on days 0, 12 and 24/28, and blood, caecal digesta and ileocaecal/mesenteric lymph nodes were collected from the slaughterhouse. Pigs were weighed at the start and end of the trials, feed intake was recorded, and carcass quality parameters were recorded at slaughter.
In Trial A, Salmonella shedding was reduced in the treatment compared to the control group at the end of the trial (30% versus 57% probability of detectingSalmonella in faeces, respectively; p<0.001). This reflected the serology results, with detection of a lower seroprevalence in the treatment compared to the control group using the 20% optical density cut-off (69.5% versus 89%; p=0.001). However, no effect on faecal shedding or seroprevalance was observed in Trial B, which may be explained by the detection of a concomitant infection with Lawsonia intracellularis. No significant differences in Salmonella recovery rates were observed in the caecal digesta or lymph nodes in either trial. Furthermore, feed intake, weight gain, and feed conversion efficiency (FCE) did not differ between groups (p>0.05) in either trial. Numerical improvements in weight gain and FCE were found with sodium butyrate treatment, which gave a cost benefit of €0.04/kg of live-weight gain.
Overall, results suggest that strategic feeding of sodium butyrate, at 3kg/t of feed, to finishing pigs for 24-28days prior to slaughter was effective in reducing Salmonella shedding and seroprevalance but perhaps only in the absence of co-infection with other pathogens. However, sodium butyrate supplementation at this rate did not influence intestinal carriage, nor did it reduce seroprevalence to below the cut-off used for the high Salmonella risk category in Ireland (50%), or significantly improve growth performance.