Ambassador: Marco van Asten, Netherlands

Publication date: February 2020 | Theme: Health management

Challenges: Influence of gut health on disease and production

A fermented liquid feed system is providing an alternative to zinc for integrated Dutch producer, the van Asten group. The fermented feed works as a probiotic and lowers the pH to reduce the risk of bacteria.

It helps stabilise the environment in the weaned piglet’s intestines and improve growth rates.  They are working towards rearing pigs without antibiotics.




  • Sow mortality was reduced by 33%, pre-weaning mortality by 15%, rearing mortality by 24% and finishing pig mortality by 17%
  • Reduction in production costs of pig meat by 3.3%
  • A 5% reduction in the average cost of feed
  • A 30-50% decline in veterinary and medicine costs
  • Production costs are reduced by up to €2.70 per pig space
  • Up to 80% antibiotic reduction
  • 25% reduction in phosphorus and nitrogen in the diet
  • Sows wean half a piglet more per litter
  • Litter weight at 24 days are 0.5 kg heavier
  • Feed is more palatable and consistent in quality


  • The energy costs for heating and administrating the feed will increase by 3% for sows and 5% for finishing pigs
  • Investment costs are approximately €16 per pig space

Innovation in practice

The Van Asten group in the Netherlands set out to improve the gut health of sows, piglets and fattening pigs and reduce antibiotic and zinc oxide use. Across a period of three years they introduced fermented liquid feeding and initially saw a reduction in antibiotic use of 50%.

Equipment and feed lines are cleaned with 70°C water for sterilization. Feed raw material is also mixed in 70°C water to kill all bacteria present. After mixing, cooler water and liquid active bacteria are added to reduce the temperature and secure fast growth. Temperature and cleanliness are important to obtain good lactic acid values and low acetic acid. The lactic acid metabolizes anti-nutritional factors (ANF) and difficult digestible starch; this acts as a probiotic and lowers the pH to reduce the risk of bacteria. Fermented liquid feed helps to stabilise the environment in the pig’s intestines and improves growth rates. For maximum effect, it is fed together with a wheat barley mixture and plant-based proteins.

More about this best practice

To access more information, contact RPIG (Netherlands): Jos Peerlings