An isotonic drink for pigs – what is it? (Tonisity, H100.2902)
Did anything good ever come from the 2014 PEDv outbreak in North America? Well, definitely yes – one of the things discovered are ways to help pigs and piglets in times they need it most. An ‘isotonic drink’ being one of them.
It’s not that often that ‘enterocytes’ are the key focus of an article. Small as they are, these gut cells play an important role for the growth and well-being of pigs and piglets. They are essential in the absorption of proteins, carbohydrates and fats so the animals can build new cells and tissues.
Enterocytes are epithelial cells that line the villi of the small in-testine. As such, they are the entry points along the small intestine that readily absorb amino acids, simple sugars and fatty acids before they are transferred into the bloodstream. Enterocytes can absorb many nutrients simultaneously, but can only manage them in small sizes. In reality, only single sugar molecules or groups of two or three amino acids can enter the enterocyte; single amino acids are preferred. Once ingested, these nutrients are then transported to the blood-stream where they are distributed to the rest of the body and re-assembled into proteins or carbohydrates to be used. All nutrients have to come in through the ‘front door’ of the enterocyte, move through the cell, and go out the ‘back door’ again into the bloodstream, where they circulate and can be used by the body’s tissues. The ‘doors’ can only open and close with the assistance of sodium and potassium. The ‘doors’ also require energy to open and close, meaning that the enterocytes have special nutrient requirements of their own.
Tonisity International developed a method of singularly feeding these enterocytes, by providing an isotonic protein solution containing the right balance of amino acids and sugar molecules. Their flagship product ‘Tonisity Px’ is available for pigs from all ages, as from day 2 of age.
As an isotonic protein solution, the drink also provides the necessary fuel sources for these enterocytes. That is where ‘micro-enteral nutrition’ comes in, delivering nutrients specifically to nourish the enterocyte cells in the small intestine. Pigs of every age enjoy drinking it because the product is created to be sweet and sour, making it particularly appealing to young piglets. That way, the approach has the potential to unlock piglets’ appetite whilst increasing their weaning weights and preventing pre-weaning mortality. In addition, ongoing trial data supports the long-term use of this isotonic strategy, linked to reduced stress, an evident improvement in intestinal health and a reduction in antibiotic requirements.
Origins of the concept
The idea was born out of Dr Ava Firth’s work as a specialist in veterinary emergency and critical care, treating dogs and cats. In 2011, she worked with Dr Simon van Dalsem and Mackle pet foods to develop an isotonic drink for critically ill dogs and cats, to support their nutritional requirements in illness. She used this drink with good success in many categories of patients,...
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