The study from France's National Research Institute Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) and animal nutrition firm Idena, found that the direct supplementation of piglets with plant extracts modified their immune and oxidative status before weaning and increased their growth performance during the postweaning period.
The study paper said that it was conducting the research as plant extracts, used as feed additives, have been recognised as having the potential to improve the ability of piglets to face the weaning challenge. This is in the wake of concerns about the widespread use of antibiotics in weaning and the spread of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria.
The study looked at the effects of using supplements on nursing sows as well as directly to piglets.
The sows received a powdered supplement added to their diet during late gestation and lactation and a liquid solution was administered once, one week before they gave birth.
The piglet supplementation was a liquid solution administered once on day three after birth.
The most concentrated components of the powder were extracts of fenugreek, Siberian ginseng, and cat’s claw. The liquid solutions contained mostly oregano and eucalyptus essential oils.
The research found that piglets that received the supplements directly experienced improved growth outcomes during the post-weaning period. However, piglets born from the supplemented sows performed no better than those who were not given any other supplements.
"The direct supplementation of piglets modified their immune and oxidative status before weaning and increased their growth performance"
While the research indicated that some plant extracts provided to piglets may improve their robustness at weaning, thus reducing the need for antibiotics, it concluded: “The direct supplementation of piglets modified their immune and oxidative status before weaning and increased their growth performance during the postweaning period, showing the potential of plant extracts as part of preventive strategies dedicated to improve piglets’ robustness during the suckling and postweaning periods.”
This follows another recent research project which was published in the Journal of Livestock Science in June 2023, which looked into the impact of adding flavours to sow’s diet during lactation.
A total of 200 mixed-parity sows were allocated to one of two treatments during lactation; a control diet or a diet with the inclusion a feed flavour - formulated to impart a red fruit and vanilla flavour.
After weaning the piglets were further divided into groups and fed either a control feed, or one with the familiar fruit and vanilla flavour.
The research concluded that the use of a flavour can be an important tool to establish a link between the ingredients that make up the sows' diet and the establishment of the piglets' sensory memory.
It concluded: “The imprinting effect can improve voluntary feed intake of the piglet during the first week post-weaning, all of which can help reduce the negative effects of the challenges of the weaning process.”
Sourced From: France's National Research Institute Agriculture, Food and Environment
'Effect of the supplementation with a combination of plant extracts on sow and piglet performance and physiology during lactation and around weaning’
Published on: 25 August 2023
Authors: L. Herve, H. Quesnel, A. Greuter, L. Hugonin, E. Merlot, N. Le Floc’h
Sourced From: Journal of Livestock Science
'Linking the sow diet to piglet nutrition via sensory imprinting improves piglet performance postweaning’
Published on: June 2023
Authors: L.R. Justino, A. Maiorka, S. Eskinazi, D.V. Jacob, W.A.G. Araujo, M.F. Gonçalves, T.S.B. Pereira, S.K. de Brito, L.T.S. Martins, A.L. Miranda, B.A.N. Silva