"Developing Therapies Based on Plant Glycosides of Vitamin D"
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Checking your pig's Vitamin D status

Join our research project on vitamin D supplementation of neonatal pigs

Heartland Assays Accession Form For Blood Samples

Wean-D is a preparation of vitamin D3 for oral administration to piglets at one to three days of age. The solution has been titrated to provide a dose of 40,000IU per ml.
The literature and the experience of those of us involved in this project suggest that a large bolus dose of vitamin D3 at processing may well support diverse facets of general health in the suckling and immediately post-weaned pig. Wean-D has been an "experimental preparation" for the last half year. We asked producers to participate in our research by assessing their weanling piglet's vitamin D status before they used Wean-D and after. This is done by determining serum 25(OH)vitamin D concentration.

Work done in many species including pigs has determined that serum 25(OH)D concentrations below 15 ng/ml for any length of time are considered insufficient to prevent the bone disease known as rickets. Increasing evidence suggests that optimal immune function and muscle development requires serum 25(OH)D concentrations above 30 ng/ml. In the last 6 months we have learned that there are almost no 10 or 21 day old piglets, raised without access to summer mid-day sunlight, with serum 25(OH)D concentrations exceeding 10 ng/ml and many are below 5 ng/ml. Many of these latter piglets are already exhibiting the rubbery bones of rickets and some go on to develop hump backs or "kyphosis" (a bone disease of the spine)in the weeks following weaning. Thanks to the willingness of the producers who participated in our early testing and development of Wean-D during the summer of 2011, we are confident that with proper administration of Wean-D at processing (1-3 days of age) serum 25(OH)D concentrations will remain above 30 ng/ml for at least the first 15 days of life and will remain above 15 ng/ml at day 21 of life. Through the efforts of the producers and veterinarians who were willing to test Wean-D we also find that use of Wean-D at processing can

  1. Improve activity level of weaned piglets- they run around their pens and their consumption of poat-wean diet is improved.

  2. Little to no rickets and greatly reduced incidence of humpbacks.

  3. Incidence of Post-weaning failure to thrive syndrome is greatly reduced(PFTS).

  4. Reduced mortality from all causes in the post-weaning period.

  5. Statistically insignificant increases in body weight at 21 days of age, but more uniformity of weight in nursery pigs.

  6. Animals developing scours are at particular risk of developing rickets due to vitamin D malabsorption and wasting via the enterohepatic circulation. Though Wean-D can help maintain serum 25(OH)D concentrations in these pigs scours presents a major challenge to vitamin D status.

Proving Wean-D works in your herd.

Many producers and veterinarians are surprised to learn that young pigs are often vitamin D deficient. If you would like to test the vitamin D status of your herd, before and after using Wean-D we have arranged with Heartland Assays in Ames, IA to provide this service at a reduced cost. We hope you will learn from this analysis and that we can all gain data and observational experience from collaborators, whether you choose to try Wean-D or not.

Check serum 25(OH)D levels in 3 week old pigs as a baseline for herd status before beginning administration of Wean-D. Serum from one "normal" pig at 3 weeks of age, from each of 10 litters is assayed. Post-treatment sampling, serum from 1 pig per litter from each of 10 litters, is to be assayed immediately pre-weaning. Clinical observations on the health of pigs, incidence of structural defects such as hump-back pigs, lameness, rib calcification, growth and physical activity level and feed consumption and mortality are important details for the producer and veterinarian to monitor.

A heartland Assays sample accession form is attached. Serum samples, clear and without hemolysis, are to be submitted chilled or frozen to: Dr. Ron Horst, Heartland Assays, 2711 South Loop Drive, Suite 4400, Building 4, Ames, IA 50010

Cost of assay is $35/serum sample ($30 each if sending 10 or more samples) and payment should be submitted with samples.