Fighting worm infections with a herb mixture

04-06-2008 | |
Fighting worm infections with a herb mixture

A non-pharmaceutical approach to worm control is especially valued by organic pig producers. Plant extracts have potential to help reduce worm infections, according to a new study from the Animal Sciences Group in the Netherlands.

The percentage of disapproved livers of growing and
finishing pigs has
been increased significantly during the last years.
In  organic pig farms, this 

percentage is often higher than in  conventional farms.
In most cases, disapproved livers are  the result of an infection with
Ascaris suum.
Usually, an  infection like this is treated or controlled by using 
conventional synthetic drugs belonging to the benzimidazoles, levamisole and
macrocyclic lactones. Organic farmers, however, prefer a non-pharmaceutical
approach to treat worms, in which phytotherapy could be a perspective
alternative.

 
Herb mixtures
An experiment was conducted to test herb
alternatives for the prevention and control of a mild infection of Ascaris
suum
in growing and finishing pigs. Two different herb mixtures were
tested. Feed was supplemented with 3% of a herb mixture, thereby adding 1%
Thymus vulgaris, 1% Melissa officinalis and 1% Echinacea purpurea to the diet,
or with 4% of a herb mixture, thereby adding the mentioned herbs plus 1%
Camellia sinensis (black tea) to the diet. Pigs were infected by 1,000 worm eggs
each. Comparatively, a negative control group (no treatment) and a positive
control group (treatment with conventional synthetic drug Flubendazole) were
included. The study was conducted with 32 young boars (average starter weight
was 24 kg) purchased from a SPF-pig farm. The pigs were monitored during 67 days
in the period December 2006 until February 2007. In this study, four
experimental treatments were compared:
 
Echinacea purpurea
was one of the extracts used in the herb mixture

 
1. Negative control: no treatment was applied to prevent or control an
infection with Ascaris suum;
2. Positive control: pigs were treated
with a conventional anthelmintic (Flubendazole) one week before slaughter;
3.
3% herb mixture: pigs were fed a diet supplemented with a herb mixture;
4. 3%
herb mixture + 1% tea: pigs were fed a diet supplemented with a herb mixture (as
treatment 3) plus black tea.
 
Results
From this experiment it was concluded that a
diet with a herb mixture containing 1% Thymus vulgaris, 1% Melissa officinalis
and 1% Echinacea purpurea for growing and finishing pigs did not decrease the
number of pigs which are infected with Ascaris suum, but did reduce the
average number of worms in the gastro intestinal tract. The addition of 1% black
tea to this herb mixture did not result in a lower number of infected pigs and
also did not reduce the average number of worms in pigs. Flubendazole appeared
to be an effective deworming product. On organic farms with a low worm infection
probably a combination of a conventional synthetic drug and a diet with herb
mixture containing 1% Thymus vulgaris, 1% Melissa officinalis and 1% Echinacea
purpurea is an option. It depends on the level of worm infection whether it is
an opportunity to deworm sows, weaners and/or growing finishing pigs with a diet
containing the herb mixture to keep the level of Ascaris suum at an
acceptable low level. Based on this monitoring probably a strategy of varying
deworming with a synthetic drug and a diet with herb mixture can be developed
for the different categories of pigs.
 
Follow up
Further research to supply the herb mixture
(described in this article) to sows related to stage of pregnancy and weaners
related to age and feed intake, is desirable. Because the current study did not
show tremendous effects of the herb mixture on the reduction of worm infections,
a new project to investigate the individual effects of other herbs will be
carried out. Results of this follow-up trial are expected in May 2008.
 
For more information: Marinus.vankrimpen@wur.nl
 
Source:Feed Mix Vol 15 No 6
 
 

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