Microbiological assessment of liquid feed for finisher pigs on commercial pig units

F. M. O’Meara, G. E. Gardiner, D. Clarke, W. Cummins, J. V. O’Doherty, P. G. Lawlor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: To investigate the microbiological and nutritional quality of liquid finisher pig feed on commercial production units and the factors influencing this. Methods and results: Microbiological and physio-chemical analyses were performed on liquid feed sampled from the mixing tank and troughs of the finisher section of eight commercial pig units. Lactic acid bacteria, yeast and Escherichia coli counts, as well as lactic acid, ethanol and acetate concentrations were higher in residual feed sampled from the troughs compared with mixing tank samples (P < 0·001). Feed pH, as well as lysine, methionine and threonine concentrations and gross energy were all lower in the residual trough samples (P < 0·001). Liquid co-products reduced E. coli counts in the residual trough samples (P < 0·05), pH in the mixing tank (P < 0·01) and fresh trough samples (P < 0·05) and mould counts at all three sampling locations (P < 0·01) but sanitation practices had no impact. Conclusions: Even when considered unfermented, a considerable degree of spontaneous fermentation occurs in liquid feed, with resultant negative effects on nutritional quality. Significance and Impact of the Study: This is one of the first studies showing that uncontrolled fermentation of fresh liquid pig feed is commonplace on commercial units, highlighting the need for implementation of suitable control strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-369
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • enterobacteria
  • fermentation
  • lactic acid bacteria
  • liquid feed
  • pig
  • yeasts and moulds


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