"Developing Therapies Based on Plant Glycosides of Vitamin D"
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Formulation

Recent Research Findings Lead to New Wean-D and Wean-D+E Formulations

Since the introduction of the original Wean-D we have been conducting research to improve the effectiveness and delivery of vitamin D to the piglet. Below is a summary of our findings.


40,000 IU vitamin D in a 0.5 ml dose is better than a 1 ml dose to newborns

After dosing several hundred piglets ourselves we were concerned the 1 ml dose was too large for baby pigs, even when using the soft plastic oral doser. Our experience suggested ~ 15% of piglets spit up a small amount of the Wean-D. We wondered if giving the vitamin D in a smaller volume of peanut oil might help and asked a few Wean-D users to test some experimental formulations. Dr. Megan Potter of the Abilene Animal Hospital, Abilene, KS administered versions of Wean-D at processing which provided 40,000 IU vitamin D in 0.25, 0.5 or 1 ml of peanut oil carrier. The level of 25-OH vitamin D in blood is our best indicator of vitamin D status in living animals. The results clearly demonstrated the 0.5 ml dosing regimen was superior- with higher levels of 25-OH vitamin D in the piglet’s blood and most importantly a smaller degree of variation between pigs. The 0.25 ml dose was numerically better than the 1 ml dose but not quite as good as the 0.5 ml dose. Dr. Deb Murray with New Fashion Pork also tested the 0.25 ml 40,000 IU D dose and found it gave comparable blood levels of 25-OH vitamin D to the 1 ml dose. This suggested to us that the vitamin D administered in a 0.5 ml dose was more easily swallowed in the newborn pigs.

We also learned absorption of the vitamin D by piglets 36 hrs old or older is better than in piglets less than 16 hrs old. But even in newborn pigs the 40,000 IU dose provides enough vitamin D to sustain piglets above 10 ng 25-OH vitamin D / ml until weaning.

Administering 80,000 IU vitamin D at processing greatly increases blood 25-OH vitamin D the first week after dosing. But by 21 days of age the blood levels are only slightly higher than in piglets given the 40,000 IU dose. Doubling the dose did not double the duration of effectiveness. Research in other species suggests the rate of excretion of vitamin D increases when higher doses of vitamin D are administered. The dose of vitamin D that will cause toxicity is unknown in the piglet. They seem to be much more tolerant than other species, but it seems likely that there is a toxic dose. For that reason we do not feel it is prudent to increase the vitamin D dose at processing much beyond 40,000 IU vitamin D. It is better to give smaller, repeated doses later (see below).

Weanling diet vitamin D is insufficient to correct vitamin D insufficiency

We have studied serum 25-OH vitamin D concentrations in piglets that were given Wean-D at processing and control piglets on three farms as of now. As expected Wean-D piglets have much higher serum 25-OH vitamin D throughout the suckling period. But shortly after weaning this advantage was gone. And in control piglets (no Wean-D at processing) serum 25-OH vitamin D concentrations remained below 15 ng/ml until they were about 49 days old (4 weeks after weaning). This occurred despite the fact that the diets had a minimum of 4 fold the NRC required level of vitamin D.

Administration of a second 40,000 IU dose of vitamin D (Wean-D) just before weaning was of little discernable benefit to the piglets. By one week after treatment their blood 25-OH vitamin D concentrations were the same as piglets that had not been given the second dose of vitamin D. However, by increasing the dose of vitamin D to 120,000 IU and administering it just before weaning the serum 25-OH vitamin D concentrations remained elevated (above 25 ng/ml) thru day 49, when diet vitamin D appears to be able to supply the vitamin D needed to maintain acceptable levels of 25-OH vitamin D in the blood.

Weaning is accompanied by decreased serum vitamin E concentrations.

If, as in our studies, the sows are given adequate vitamin E supplementation during lactation, sow milk will provide enough vitamin E to maintain serum tocopherol (vitamin E) concentrations well above 2 ng/ml, the level considered the low end of normal. However, piglet serum vitamin E concentrations declined rapidly after weaning, with concentrations falling below 1 ng/ml in many piglets about 1 week after weaning. It appears diet vitamin E is insufficient to maintain serum vitamin E levels the first weeks after weaning. Vitamin E insufficiency is considered one of the factors causing mulberry heart disease and inadequate vitamin E is known to compromise immune function. The natural form of vitamin E in plant oils is RRR-alpha-tocopherol. Unfortunately, it is rapidly destroyed by oxidizing agents found in complete feed. This problem was circumvented by development of a synthetic form of vitamin E with an acetate molecule attached to it in an ester bond. This greatly increases the stability of the vitamin E in feed. Studies from several labs, notably Dr. Don Mahan at the Ohio State University, suggest the synthetic tocopheryl acetate form of vitamin E used in most diets is not used as efficiently by the young pig as is the natural RRR-alpha-tocopherol. At weaning it appears the young pig may not have the full complement of enzymes needed to allow it to break the acetate ester linkage and free the vitamin E for absorption. Piglets are fully capable of absorbing the natural vitamin E. By three to four weeks after weaning the young pig’s digestive enzymes appear capable of using synthetic vitamin E just as well as natural vitamin E.

Serum retinol (Vitamin A) levels were within normal ranges in all piglets we examined at all ages. Sow milk and the diet of weaned pigs appear to supply adequate amounts of vitamin A.

Our solution –Re-formulated Wean-D and Wean-D + E, with natural vitamin E.


More Concentrated Formula Wean-D with 80,000 IU vitamin D3/ml.

Suggested usage

At Processing: 0.5 ml Wean-D given orally as a drench using a syringe gun with the soft oral doser we supply with Wean-D in the first days of life. This provides 40,000 IU vitamin D to sustain serum 25-OHD concentrations until near weaning time.

At Weaning: 2.0 ml Wean-D given just before or after weaning provides 160,000 IU vitamin D to sustain serum 25-OHD concentration until the piglet is consuming adequate vitamin D in its diet, which occurs ~ 6 or 7 weeks of age. The best results are obtained by administering the 2 ml orally into the back of the mouth of piglets using the oral doser. It is rather labor intensive. We find some producers willing to do this if they pick up the piglets to administer vaccines just before weaning time anyway. For most management systems the easiest method is to prepare the nursery pen with the receiving diet and topdress the feed trough with 1 ml Wean-D / piglet entering the pen, squirting the Wean-D along the entire length of the feeding surface of the trough. This is repeated one week later to give a total dose of 160,000 IU vitamin D. Piglets find peanut oil palatable and will consume the supplement. Alternatively, topdressing the feed with 0.5 ml per piglet twice each week for the first 2 weeks in the nursery is an even better approach. Unfortunately top dressing the entire 2 mls across the trough on the first day gave less reliable results as intake of diet on day 1 of entering the nursery was variable.


The Wean-D + E program

Introducing Wean-D +E with 80,000 IU vitamin D3 and 100 IU natural vitamin E (RRR-alpha tocopherol/ml).

Suggested usage

At Processing: 0.5 ml Wean-D +E given orally as a drench using a syringe gun with the soft oral doser we supply. Wean-D +E in the first days of life provides 40,000 IU vitamin D to sustain serum 25-OHD concentrations until near weaning time. It also supplies 50 IU RRR-alpha tocopherol, which may help counteract the oxidizing activity of iron injections received at processing. Sow milk provides little iron so an iron dextran injection is vital to prevent anemia. Unfortunately, free iron in the body acts as a strong pro-oxidant, which can create problems and predispose piglets to colibacillosis. Vitamin E supplementation has been shown to reduce these problems.

At Weaning: A total dose of 2.0 ml Wean-D +E given just before or after weaning provides 160,000 IU vitamin D to sustain serum 25-OHD concentration until the piglet is consuming adequate vitamin D in its diet, which occurs at around 6 or 7 weeks of age. It also provides 200 IU natural RRR-alpha tocopherol in a readily absorbable form that helps sustain serum tocopherol levels. Low serum tocopherol concentration has been linked to mulberry heart disease and poor immune function. The best results are obtained by administering the 2 ml orally into the back of mouth of piglets using the oral doser. It is rather labor intensive. We find some producers willing to do this if they pick up the piglets to administer vaccines just before weaning time anyway. For most management systems the easiest method is to prepare the nursery pen with the receiving diet and topdress the feed trough with 1 ml Wean-D+E / piglet entering the pen, squirting the Wean-D+E along the entire length of the feeding surface of the trough. Then repeating this procedure 1 week later. This gives the piglets a total dose of 160,000 IU Vitamin D and 200 IU Natural Vitamin E. Piglets find peanut oil palatable and will consume the supplement. Alternatively, topdressing the feed with 0.5 ml per piglet twice each week for the first 2 weeks in the nursery is an even better approach. Unfortunately top dressing the entire 2 mls across the trough on the first day gave less reliable results as intake of diet on day 1 of entering the nursery was variable.