Background last update:6 Aug 2012

Phytogenic concepts in piglets

At pig farms, the need for optimal feed efficiency, in terms of feed conversion ratios, becomes even more evident in present t imes of rising prices for feed ingredients. Phytogenics – originating from herbs and spices – can help to improve feed efficiency and animal health, says Tobias Steiner from Biomin.

Optimising feed conversion ratio is crucial for efficiency in swine production. A trial was recently carried out at the Kansas State University, US, to evaluate the efficacy of phytogenics in comparison to antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) in post-weaning piglets (Sulabo et al., 2007). 192 piglets (22 days of age) were assigned to four treatment groups: Group 1 was fed a negative control diet without growth-promoters. Groups 2 and 3 received the negative control diet supplemented with phytogenics. Group 4 was offered a positive control diet containing AGPs (140 g/t neomycin sulfate and 140 g/t oxytetracycline HCl). Growth performance was significantly improved over the negative control group when phytogenics or AGPs were added to the feed. In terms of average daily gains, the pigs fed phytogenics were intermediate between the negative control and the AGPs. Feed conversion, however, was best in the groups receiving phytogenics. The phytogenic feed additive* under investigation contained a defined blend of essential oils from anise, citrus and oregano, as well as plant extracts.




It can be concluded from the outcome of this trial that well-selected phytogenics can be successfully used to improve growth performance in post-weaning piglets, especially in antibiotic-free feeding regimens. The results fromKansas State University confirmed positive observations obtained in previous experiments. A trial conducted in Denmark by Danske

Slagterier also showed an increase in performance when the feed was supplemented with phytogenics. In this trial, 384 pigs (5 weeks of age) were fed either a negative control diet or the negative control diet with supplemental phytogenics*. The feed was pelleted at a minimum temperature of 81°C. Performance parameters, as recorded from weaning to 50 days post-weaning, are shown in Table 1. Not only daily gain and feed conversion ratio were improved by 5.2 and 4.5%, respectively. Also the Danish Production Value was increased by 10.3% through supplementation of the feed with phytogenics. The Danish Production Value represents an indicator of productivity and is calculated as follows: (kg gain × DKK/kg gain)–(no. of analyzed FUp × DKK/FUp), with figures being based on average local prices. Results from a field trial conducted in South Africa showed substantial benefits of phytogenics in weaned pigs. The trial was carried out on a commercial farm and lasted 37 days. Pigs in group A (control) were fed a basal diet containing Tylan (1 kg/t) and zinc oxide (4 kg/ t), whereas pigs in group B were fed the basal diet supplemented with phytogenics. As shown in Table 2, considerable improvements in daily weight gain were seen when the pigs were fed phytogenics. Moreover, pigs in group B were more uniform in size at the end of the trial.


Conclusion and outlook

Well-investigated phytogenics are an efficient tool to support animal health and growth performance. Since they do not pose any risk regarding antibiotic resistance or residues in animal products such as meat, eggs or milk, phytogenics are expected to gain high consumer's acceptance and are generally regarded as safe alternatives to AGPs.


 Particular attention, however, has to be paid on the composition of formulations which are available in the market. Only a well-balanced and scientifically developed combination of active ingredients with different properties can be expected to function synergistically in order to bring about the desired benefits for the producer. However, phytogenic feed additives usually vary seriously in their chemical composition. Hence, there are large differences in efficacy between phytogenic products in the market. A big challenge for swine producers is to find the suitable product formulation out of an increasing number of phytogenic feed additives which are available.


*The phytogenic feed additive is available under the product name  Biomin® P.E.P. Literature is available from the author on request (tobias.steiner@biomin.net )


Source: Feed Mix Magazine Volume 16 No. 4

Editor AllAboutFeed

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