Grain quality issues can create additional problems with weaned piglets, but so can the protocols meant to protect pigs against contaminated feed, say researchers.

“Contaminated feed has been shown to be a potential vehicle for the introduction of pathogens into farms,” Laura Greiner, a veterinarian with Carthage Innovation Swine Solutions, LLC, said at the AASV meeting. “As a result, a number of hog producers have opted to use different protocols for disinfection of feed, including the use of formaldehyde-based antimicrobials. However, it has been suggested that the chemical properties of formaldehyde may interact with dietary nutrients...and affect growth performance.”

Greiner and other researchers at Carthage felt there was a lack of research results to validate previous claims. Moreover, if such effects exist, the researchers wanted to determine its extent and evaluate strategies to overcome the effects. The objective of the study was to evaluate the effects of using a formaldehyde-based feed disinfectant on the growth performance of nursery pigs fed diets with or without increasing levels of amino acid (AA) or phytase/vitamins.

The study was conducted on 1,125 barrows and gilts in a commercial wean-to-finish facility during a 44-day study period.

They found that adding the product (in this case, SalCURB from Kemin Industries), to feed formulations with 100% of nutrient requirements had no effect on any of the measured variables on any of the interim periods. Moreover, final body weight, overall average daily feed intake and overall gain:feed ratio were not different between the two trials.

“Results from this study suggest that disinfecting nursery feed with a formaldehyde-based product may decrease the growth rate of nursery pigs by as much as 3.5%,” Greiner said. “However, this effect was relatively small, as seen on the lack of effects on other performance parameters, including final body weight. Moreover, the impact of using feed disinfected with the product on average daily gain was overcome by the combined addition of amino acids and vitamins/phytase above the requirements.”

She said further research is needed, but this research revealed important information.