Improving the gut health of weaning piglets

Friday, September 16, 2005


Improving the gut health of weaning piglets

Arthur Kroismayr, Biomin



The efficacy of a phytogenic feed additive has been proven.


Phytogenic feed additives, among other strategies, would be used as alternatives to Antibiotic Growth Promoters (AGP), which would be banned in the European Union from January 2006 onwards.


Feed additives, which are based on herbal ingredients, are of increasing interest in animal production because of their positive influence on animal performance.


However, the efficacy and mode of action of these products is often unclear and heavily dependent on the composition of the ingredients. "Biomin realised the importance of understanding the mode of action of these products to optimise their use in animal nutrition. This was the focus of our research project carried out in cooperation with two universities in Austria and Germany", says Sigrid Pasteiner, head of the natural growth promotion department of Biomin.


Biomin® P.E.P. is a combination of essential oils and fructo - oligosaccarides which leads to an enhancement of performance and health status in farm animals. Essential oils are used to enhance palatability of feed in general, and also because of their positive activity in the whole digestive tract. Fructo-oligosaccharides are prebiotic substances, which develop their activity in the large intestine.


To get confirmed information about the special mode of action of Biomin® P.E.P., a very comprehensive study was carried out in cooperation with industrial and scientific participants. Under the special guidance of the University of Applied Life Sciences, Vienna and Biomin GmbH, Austria, including additional scientific institutions, the mode of action of Biomin® P.E.P. was tested in weaning piglets. The trial was conducted with three different groups, Biomin® P.E.P., a positive (Avilamycin) control group and a negative control group. The positive control group with the antibiotic growth promoter was within the project to get information on whether the phytobiotic product (Biomin® P.E.P.) was able to replace the AGP or not.


The zootechnical data revealed that performance regarding daily weight gain and feed conversion, was higher in the Avilamycin and Biomin® P.E.P. group compared with the negative control group. There was no difference between the Biomin® P.E.P. and the antibiotic group.


Physiological investigations showed that the positive effect of the phytogenic product was caused by positive impact on the digestive tract. Analyzing chymus samples of slaughtered experimental animals showed that the colony counts of bacteria and also the contents of metabolised bacterial products (volatile fatty acids, biogenic amines) were decreased. As a result of this positive influence on gut micro flora, immune status increased and growth rate and nutrient utilisation were enhanced.


An outstanding result was achieved regarding the health status of piglets receiving Biomin® P.E.P. histological investigations. Also, a PCR analysis of special marker genes proved that the phytogenic product Biomin® P.E.P. enhanced the immune status of the animals to the same extent as the AGP did.


It could be summarised that the positive influence of Biomin® P.E.P. on animals´ performance and immune status was caused by the enhancement of health status in the digestive tract. The study also showed that Biomin® P.E.P. was a highly valuable tool to replace Antimicrobial Growth Promoters.



The study was conducted by Arthur Kroismayr (above) together with the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, and the Technical University of Munich, Germany.