The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of dietary Chinese medicinal herbs (CMH) supplementation composed of Panax ginseng, Dioscoreaceae opposite, Atractylodes macrocephala, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, Ziziphus jujube and Platycodon grandiflorum, on the performance, intestinal tract morphology and immune activity in weanling pigs. Two hundred and forty weaned pigs were assigned randomly to four dietary groups including the negative control (basal diet), 0.1% CMH, 0.3% CMH and 0.114% antibiotic (Chlortetracycline calcium Complex, Sulfathiazole and Procaine Penicillin G) supplementation groups for a 28-day feeding trial. Results indicated that both CMH supplementation groups had a better gain and feed/gain than control group (CT) during the first 2 weeks of the experimental period. The 0.3% CMH had a significant decrease in the diarrhoea score in first 10 days of experimental period when compared with other groups. The CMH supplementation groups had a higher villous height, increased lactobacilli counts in digesta of ileum and decreased coliform counts in colon compared with CT. The immune activities of polymorphonuclear leucocytes (PMNs), including the respiratory burst and Salmonella-killing ability, were significantly enhanced in CMH supplementation groups at day 7 of experiment period. The CMH and antibiotic supplementations increased the nutrient digestibility such as dietary dry matter, crude protein and gross energy in weanling pigs. In conclusion, the dietary CMH supplementation improved intestinal morphology and immune activities of PMNs, thus giving rise to nutrient digestibility and reduce diarrhoea frequency in weanling pigs.
© 2011 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.