- Antibiotic reduction
- Feed formulation
- Feed intake
- Feed Producer / Feed Mill
- Vet/Animal Health
- Antibiotic reduction
- Feed formulation
- Feed intake
- Feed Producer / Feed Mill
- Vet/Animal Health
Essential Oils for Piglets: Increasing Nutrient Availability and Utilization for Better Nursery Pig Growth
A successful weaning transition is essential for optimal performance of piglets in the nursery phase and beyond. Weaning imposes stressors on piglets resulting in low feed consumption, decreased growth, diarrhea, morbidity, and mortality. Feeding weaned piglets essential oils can help this transition. The unique blend of essential oils and extracts that make up Digestarom® DC Xcel has shown to support piglets during this challenging period by boosting feed intake and supporting a balanced gut function promoting piglet growth.01.07.2020
• Gut health is an integral part of optimizing growth performance of piglets.
• Stress factors including transportation, handling, and changes to the diet can cause disruptions in gut health.
• Digestarom® DC Xcel has a unique ability to improve performance by boosting feed intake and supporting gut function protection and performance.
The combination of an underdeveloped gut and immune system together with stressful weaning practices such as transportation, handling, change to feed source and mixing of litters can easily cause problems such as diarrhea, poor growth rate and mortality, compromising profitability and performance in piglets and subsequent growing phases.
An underdeveloped gut together with stressful weaning practices can easily cause problems which compromise profitability and performance in piglets.
Among the different feed additives used during weaning, phytogenic feed additives (PFAs) draw attention due to their ability to improve performance by:
- stimulating feed intake and gut development
- boosting the immune system by reducing inflammatory processes and increasing antioxidant capacity
- modulating microbiota
- exerting a beneficial impact on gut quality
Knowledge about the effects of essential oils and plant-based compounds has grown considerably over the past decades. At BIOMIN®, we combine extensive research with practical experience of phytogenics through partnerships with feed and livestock producers worldwide.
Digestarom® DC Xcel from BIOMIN® is a unique next generation phytogenic feed additive. Using BIOMIN® Duplex CapsuleTM technology, it includes a blend of essential oils and other plant extracts which boost feed intake, support a balanced gut function, and improve performance in weaned piglets.
Stimulation of feed intake and gut development
A rapid increase in feed intake post-weaning plays a key role in the development of the gut. Although most piglets start consuming feed within the first 24 hours, approximately 30% of animals take between 24 to 60 hours (Bruininx et al., 2002) to start consuming feed.
The flavoring and biological properties of Digestarom® DC Xcel help increase feed intake and support gut development. Several trials using Digestarom® DC Xcel have proven its success in increasing feed consumption. Over nine different trials in different locations, feed intake in animals fed Digestarom® DC Xcel was improved by an average of 2.3% compared to the control animals (Figure 1).
When feed intake is compromised, development of the gut structure is hindered, leading to poor nutrient absorption and performance. One way of measuring gut structure development is by looking at the morphology parameters such as villi length and crypt depth.
When weaned piglets were supplemented with Digestatom® DC Xcel, an improvement in gut morphology was observed by a 15% increase in villus height while keeping the same villus:crypt ratio (Figure 2). This increased the total surface area for nutrient absorption, leading to a 24 g/piglet improvement in body weight gain compared to the control group.
Digestarom® DC Xcel supplementation generates an improvement in gut morphology, increasing the surface area available for nutrient absorption.
Less inflammatory processes
Inflammation is a natural response in organisms against stressors and harmful environmental stimuli. There are two different types of inflammatory processes: clinical and subclinical. Clinical inflammation occurs for example after an injury or bacterial infection, whereas a subclinical is much milder but more persistent immune system response, shifting nutrients away from growth performance (Jiminez et al., 2015; Murakami and Hirano, 2012; Ashley et al., 2012; Figure 3).
As described in Figure 4, inflammation is linked to oxidative stress in a vicious circle (Mostofa et al., 2017). Reactive oxygen species (ROS) or other stimuli such as cytokines, lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and other causative agents are inducers of the proinflammatory transcription factor NF-κB, which is one of the master regulators of innate and adaptive immune reactions. With the activation of NF-κB, a cascade of inflammatory molecules is activated, continuing the cycle and consuming nutrients significantly (Pantano et al., 2006).
Essential oil ingredients from the core of the BIOMIN® Duplex Capsule demonstrated strong anti-inflammatory effects by down-regulating the expression of NF-ƙB by over 30% (Figure 5) while the extracts and herbs module as well as the licorice component demonstrated strong antioxidant effects by up-regulating the expression of Nrf2 by 24% and 40%, respectively (Figures 6 and 7).
Modulation of gut microbiota
The gut microbiota is a highly evolved and complex ecosystem that plays a key role in the health and growth performance of the host. Understanding of the composition and functions of the gut microbiome has improved significantly over the past decade by new technologies that identify micro-organisms and describe their metabolism and interactions.
Benefits of a healthy gut microbiota include:
- Promotion of anti-inflammatory response
- Maintenance of gut barrier function
- Coating the gut with a benign microbiota to physically exclude pathogens
- Production of natural antibiotics and antifungals
- Supporting vitamin and co-factor production
- Usage of otherwise indigestible feed ingredients
- Detoxification of feed components
Our recent research using next generation sequencing technology has looked at the microbiota of piglets consuming Digestarom® DC Xcel compared to two different groups, with no feed additives and no antibiotics. Findings demonstrated strong microbiota modulation effects for Digestarom® DC Xcel compared to both groups, increasing the population of beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus and fibrobacteres.
Increased gut integrity
Gut integrity is the ability of the intestinal epithelial cell to act as a physical barrier, preventing the passage of potentially harmful foreign substances from the intestinal lumen into the animal while at the same time allowing the passage of nutrients to sustain and promote animal health.
In between the intestinal epithelial cells there are tight junctions. These are groups of proteins functioning as gate keepers against harmful molecules. Tight junctions are constantly challenged by stressors including:
- Water deprivation
- Heat stress
Disruption of the tight junctions potentially leads to systemic inflammatory responses. Therefore, a fast recovery of intestinal tight junction proteins is crucial in maintaining an intact gut barrier and ensuring animal health.
Rapid recovery of intestinal tight junction proteins is crucial in maintaining gut barrier function and ensuring animal health.
Both the extracts and herbs module as well as the licorice component of Digestarom® DC Xcel have shown a positive effect on the gut barrier function, shortening the recovery time after a challenging situation. The extracts and herbs module (Figure 8) demonstrated a nearly 10% improvement on gut integrity, while the licorice component demonstrated a 46%, 74% and 30% improvement in gut integrity 4, 6 and 24 hours after a challenge situation, respectively (Figure 9).
In addition to these findings, the licorice component of Digestarom® DC Xcel has shown to have a positive effect on the abundance of the tight junction protein, claudin-4 after a challenge (Figure 10). These improvements confirm the ability of Digestarom® DC Xcel to improve the gut barrier function.
The flavoring and biological effects of Digestarom® DC Xcel have shown a 4.4% improvement in average daily gain (ADG) and a 3.7 point improvement in feed conversion ratio (FCR) over nine different trials in nursery pigs (Figure 12), proving the benefits of using Digestarom® DC Xcel on piglet performance.
In February 2020, BIOMIN announced the zootechnical authorization of Digestarom® DC Duplex Capsule in weaned piglets. The zootechnical authorization reinforces the favorable scientific opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed (FEEDAP) on the safety and efficacy of the Duplex Capsule (DC-C) in weaned piglets.
“Based on the results of three efficacy studies in which positive benefits were seen, the additive has the potential to improve the growth performance of weaned piglets.” stated the Opinion.
Ashley, N.T., Weil, Z.M. and Nelson, R.J. (2012). Inflammation: mechanisms, costs, and natural variation. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics. 43, 385–406.
Bruininx, E., Binnendijk, G.P., Peet-Schwering, C.M.C., Schrama, J.W., den Hartog, L.A., Everts, H. and Beynen, A. (2002). Effect of creep feed consumption on individual feed intake characteristics and performance of group-housed weanling pigs. Journal of Animal Science 80(6), 1413-1418.
Jiminez, J.A., Uwiera, T.C., Inglis, G.D. and Uwiera, R.R.E. (2015). Animal models to study acute and chronic intestinal inflammation in mammals. Gut Pathology. 7:29 doi: 10.1186/s13099-015-0076-y.
Mostofa, A.G.M., Punganuru, S.R., Rao Madala, H., Al-Obaide, M. and Srivenugopal, K.S. (2017). The process and regulatory components of inflammation in brain oncogenesis. Biomolecules. 7(2). doi: 10.3390/biom7020034.
Murakami, M. and Hirano, T. (2012). The molecular mechanisms of chronic inflammation development. Front Immunol. 3:323 doi:10.3389/fimmu.2012.00323.
Pantano, C., Reynaert, N.L., van der Vliet, A., Janssen-Heininger, Y.M.W. (2006). Redox-sensitive kinases of the nuclear factor-κB signaling pathway. Antioxidants & redox signaling 8(9-10), 1791-1806.