A radical solution has been found by using a lectin obtained from the red kidney bean plant. Lectins are proteins with the ability to bind cells together; typically red blood cells. The EUREKA Healthy Weaning project coordinator, Professor Stefan Pierzynowski of Lund University, Sweden, explains: "Giving this factor, which we call Suilektin®, for a short, specific period before weaning stimulates the digestive tract to reach maturity faster. This helps it to change from the digestive and absorptive needs of milk, to those of an adult diet." The EUREKA study showed that giving the lectin to piglets at 11-12 days old enhanced successful weaning at 28 days.
A welcome innovation for industry
Current pig production methods could benefit significantly from this new Suilektin® product. Other sophisticated weaning foods are available, but are not always an economic proposition for the farmer, as the profit margin on pig production is not high. "We are very interested in finding a producer for Suilektin® and it could reach the market very soon. It will be both cheap and very effective," says Prof. Pierzynowski. "We will be explaining to farmers the advantages of its use in extremely small, carefully calculated amounts for this very short period, which will stimulate maturing of the digestive tract without causing any digestive problems."
The idea for the Suilektin® product originated in Lund University but was developed in collaboration with other project partners in Poland. Gramineer International in Sweden produced and purified the lectin, and