Effect of tannins on growth performance and intestinal ecosystem in weaned piglets

Arch Anim Nutr. 2010 Apr;64(2):121-35. doi: 10.1080/17450390903461584.


Tannins are natural polyphenolic compounds that can reduce digestibility of dietary protein but also display antibacterial effects. The present study investigated, in vitro and in vivo, the effect of different levels of tannins (using a chestnut wood extract containing 75% tannins) on growth performance, intestinal microbiota and wall morphology in piglets. During a 24 h in vitro caecal fermentation, the utilisation of tannins at 0.75, 1.5, 3, and 6 g/l significantly reduced total gas production and concentrations of ammonia and volatile fatty acids and increased viable counts of enterococci and coliforms. When fed to piglets at 1.13, 2.25, and 4.5 g/kg, tannins significantly improved feed efficiency and reduced caecal concentrations of ammonia, iso-butyric, and iso-valeric acid. Viable counts of lactobacilli tended to be increased by tannins in the jejunum, while bacterial caecal counts were not affected. Depth of ileal crypts tended to decrease in piglets fed tannins at 2.25 and 4.5 g/kg. The present study showed that feeding weaned piglets with a tannin-rich wood extract can result in improved feed efficiency and reduction of intestinal bacterial proteolytic reactions. The growth-enhancing effect that tannins had on enterococci and coliforms under in vitro conditions deserves further investigation.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Digestion / drug effects
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fermentation
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Swine / growth & development*
  • Tannins / pharmacology*
  • Weaning
  • Weight Gain / drug effects


  • Tannins