Effect of a blend of essential oils on the performance of sows and their piglets
K. Spengler, A. Jouve, I. Valcke, A. Janssens
Conclusion: feeding an EO blend (Agolin Pig) to hyper-prolific sows during lactating period resulted in a diminished mobilisation of body fat reserves and in an increased litter weight. The enhanced feed utilization and energy supply for sow productivity may be attributed to the effects of the EO blend.
Results and discussion: the total number of piglets born alive was 16.5 in EO blend vs. 16.0 piglets in control group. Average gain per piglet was similar in both groups (0.206 kg for EO blend vs. 0.203 kg for the control). However, piglets from the EO group showed a 5.2% higher gain focusing the whole litter per sow during lactation period (EO 47.0 kg vs. CON 44.7 kg). Reyes-Camacho et al. (2020) fed a blend of phytogenic actives (thymol, eucalyptol and others) to sows and the results showed similar effects such as a higher number of piglets born alive and a higher litter weight at weaning. EO blend sows had on average 12.1 piglets during the lactation period while control sows had 11.6 piglets. Despite more suckling piglets, the Agolin fed sows showed less body fat mobilisation than control sows and maintained their body condition. Sows fed the EO blend lost 6.0% of body condition, while sows of the control group lost 8.2%. Hall et al. (2021) recognised an influence on body condition while feeding oregano essential oil. Sows maintained their body condition while control sows showed a decrease. Studies of Hall et al. (2021) and Feyera et al. (2020) assumed that such an effect can be related to a shift in the microbial population and a better protein utilisation. Additionally, reproductive performance was also improved in the Agolin Pig group. The sows showed a pregnancy rate of 88.2% after first insemination, control sows 81.3%. Kis and Bilkei (2003) noted a positive effect on reproductive parameters such as weaning-tooestrus interval and farrowing rate by feeding a blend of oregano. They assumed that the results are related to an improved influence on immune response and uterine involution.