Weaning in piglets: a critical period

Piglets are fragile animals at birth as they have to build their immune system after farrowing through lactation and especially through colostrum ingestion.

This building of the immune system must then continue during weaning, which is a critical period in the life of piglets that may be associated with oxidative stress (Yin et al., 2014; Zhu et al., 2013). Indeed, they encounter new pathogens in a new environment which can be stressful due to the feeding transition and the grouping with other piglets.

Oxidative stress is a physiological state in which the production of harmful compounds (free radicals) exceeds the body’s antioxidant defenses, leading to a disruption of the oxidative balance. The disruption of the oxidative balance can have dramatic consequences on the performance and health of piglets.

Therefore, it is important to provide a good nutritional approach to piglets during weaning to ensure the good construction of the immune system and to minimize the risk of disease (diarrhea).

Supplementation of piglets with standardized grape extract and selenium during weaning


In a trial conducted in France on farmed piglets, we aimed to study the impact of supplementing drinking water with a synergistic combination of antioxidant compounds, standardized grape dry extract (Nor-Grape® WS) and selenium, given to piglets at weaning.

We compared two batches of 15 piglets. The first batch received standard water (CTL), while the second batch received standard water supplemented with 20g of standardized grape extract, Nor-Grape® WS, and 0.05g of selenium per 1000 liters of water (AOX).


Observations on piglets

The criteria measured on the day of weaning did not differ between groups. However, samples taken 20 days later showed an increase in THAC in the AOX batch only (Figure 1, P<0.01). In addition, piglets from the AOX group had significantly lower levels of oxidative damage 20 days later (Figure 2, P<0.005). Research has shown that weaning stress induces a decrease in antioxidant defences in piglets in the days following weaning, simultaneously with an increase in oxidative damage (Yin et al., 2014; Cao et al., 2018: Luo et al., 2016). However, the results obtained in this trial show that supplementation with a combination of synergistic antioxidants in the days following weaning increases antioxidant defences (THAC) and has a positive impact on reducing oxidative damage (plasma oxidized proteins).

The increase in total hydrophilic antioxidant capacity, together with a significantly lower level of oxidative damage in animals receiving antioxidants via drinking water, demonstrated the efficacy of this supplementation to counteract weaning-induced oxidative stress in piglets. The addition of a Nor-Grape + Selenium solution can therefore compensate for oxidative stress and support immunity during this critical period for these young animals.


An interesting fact to know


Nor-Feed has purchased a family of patents from one of the world’s leading veterinary pharmaceutical companies, organized around a patent entitled “Antioxidants against oxidative stress during a stressor event”.

The trial presented here is an example of the application of this patented synergistic combination.


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