Effect of plant extracts and formic acid on the intestinal equilibrium of early-weaned pigs

E. G. Manzanilla, J. F. Perez, M. Martin, C. Kamel, F. Baucells, J. Gasa

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We evaluated the effects of a plant extracts mixture (XT) standardized in 5% (wt/wt) carvacrol, 3% cinnamaldehyde, and 2% capsicum oleoresin (oregano, cinnamon and Mexican pepper), alone or in combination with formic acid (FA), on the productive performance and the intestinal ecosystem of the early-weaned pig. Pigs weaned at 20 ± 1 d of age (n = 216) were allocated in 24 pens and fed a standard medicated prestarter diet for 12 d. Twelve days after weaning, a stress management system based on social and dietary stress factors was applied to the animals, after which, each group was allocated to one of six dietary treatments, which followed a factorial arrangement, with three levels (as-fed basis) of the XT (0, 150, and 300 mg/kg) and two levels of FA (0 and 0.5%). On d 24 and 25 after the stress episode, eight pigs per treatment were killed to examine variables describing some aspects of the gastrointestinal ecology. Two days after the stress episode, an Escherichia coli K88 diarrhea episode occurred, and five casualties were registered. Four of the five deaths occurred in pens of pigs not fed the XT. The FA resulted in better G:F (P = 0.040) in coincidence with shorter villous height (P = 0.073) and lower rectal total microbial mass (P = 0.078). Both XT and FA addition increased stomach content (P = 0.006 and 0.003, respectively) and percentage of DM (P = 0.089 and 0.010, respectively), suggesting an increased gastric retention time; consequently, pH was also increased (P = 0.005 and 0.060, respectively). The XT decreased ileum total microbial mass (P = 0.025) and increased the lactobacilli:enterobacteria ratio (P = 0.002). The VFA profile in the cecum and colon was modified by XT inclusion, increasing the proportion of acetate (P = 0.018 and 0.025, respectively) and diminishing the proportion of butyrate (P = 0.096 and 0.040, respectively) and valerate (P = 0.001 and 0.039, respectively). Both XT and FA were shown to be effective in modifying the gastrointestinal ecosystem, stomach contents, and stomach emptying rate, which are proposed as important aspects in the mechanisms of action for these additives. © 2004 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3210-3218
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2004


  • Acidifiers
  • Intestinal Health
  • Microbiota
  • Piglets
  • Plant Extracts
  • Weaning


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