A total of 144 weaned piglets were used to evaluate the effects of essential oil (EO) supplementation of a low-energy diet on performance, apparent nutrient digestibility, small intestinal morphology, intestinal microflora, immune properties and antioxidant activities in weaned pigs. Pigs received a low-energy diet (negative control, NC, digestible energy = 3250 kcal/kg), NC plus 0.025% EO or a positive control diet (PC, digestible energy = 3400 kcal/kg) for 28 days. Growth performance was similar between the EO group and PC group. However, EO supplementation increased (P < 0.05) average daily gain and the apparent digestibility of dry matter, crude protein and energy compared with pigs fed the NC diet. Greater (P < 0.05) villus height and lower (P < 0.05) counts of Escherichia coli and total anaerobes in the rectum in the EO group were observed compared with NC or PC groups. Pigs fed EO diet had higher (P < 0.05) concentrations of albumin, immunoglobulin A (IgA), IgG and total antioxidant capacity and lower fecal score than pigs fed the PC and NC diets. Above all, this study indicates that supplementation of EO to a low-energy pig diet has beneficial results and obtains similar performance compared with normal energy (PC) diet.
Keywords: antioxidant activity; essential oils; microflora; performance; pig.
© 2014 Japanese Society of Animal Science.