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Studies on the effects of essential-oil-based feed additives on performance, ileal nutrient digestibility, and selected bacterial groups in the gastrointestinal tract of piglets.

  • Maenner, K
  • Vahjen, W
  • Simon, O
Published Article
Journal of animal science
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2011
DOI: 10.2527/jas.2010-2950
PMID: 21357448


The aim of this study was to assess the effects of 2 different phytogenic products on performance, ileal nutrient digestibility, and composition of the intestinal microbiota. The 2 phytogenic products contained different essential oil mixtures (EOM) characterized by either menthol (Mentha arvensis; EOM-M) or cinnamon aldehyde (Cinnamomum aromaticum; EOM-C) as main constituents. Three treatments consisted of control diet without EOM addition and diets supplemented with EOM-M or EOM-C. Reproducibility of the effects was examined in 4 trials with a total of 300 male castrated and female piglets weaned at 25 d of age. The number of pens per treatment in trials I through III were 7, 9, and 9, respectively, for research station conditions, and 10 in trial IV for simulated farm conditions. In research station conditions, the experimental unit consisted of flat deck pens with 2 piglets per pen, whereas it consisted of floor pens with straw bedding with 5 piglets per pen in farm conditions. The feed additives had no effect on feed intake or BW gain. Improvements (P < 0.05) in G:F were observed for EOM-M supplemented diets in 2 of 4 trials as well as for the combined data of all trials. These improvements were associated with greater (P<0.05) apparent ileal digestibility of CP and of most AA. The effect of EOM-C on these response criteria was intermediate between control and EOM-M. Real-time PCR analysis of the gastrointestinal contents for 7 bacterial groups (Lactobacillus spp., Enterococcus spp., Clostridium coccoides and Clostridium leptum cluster, Escherichia spp., and Escherichia coli toxin estII) indicated no effect of treatments on the gastrointestinal microbiota. It was concluded that EOM-M consistently improved feed efficiency in weaned piglets, and it was associated with improved ileal protein and AA digestibility. In general, however, the effectiveness of EOM as feed additives differs considerably depending on the constituents.

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