The use of herbal essential oils in pig nutrition – is it all hogwash?

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
JournalFarming Connect
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019
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Abstract

The Welsh pig sector is relatively small, with just 23,000 pigs living in Wales compared to around 9,300,000 sheep and 1,000,000 cattle. Nevertheless, pigs are highly productive meat producers and are the most popular farmed species across the globe. As opportunistic omnivores (animals that given the chance, will consume meat and vegetables), pigs are flexible in terms of nutrition and by virtue are highly adaptable to different environments – be that in an intensive commercial unit or an extensive free-range system. However, in order to achieve optimum productive performance, the correct nutrients must be delivered at the correct time, as is the case with all farmed animals. To maximise growth, many producers in the past have used antibiotic growth promoters, however, due to a dangerous surge in antibiotic resistance their use in the EU was banned in 2006. This has prompted exploration of alternative, novel compounds which may improve herd health whilst also maximising growth and productivity in general. One potential solution currently being explored is the application of herbs in the pig’s diet.

Keywords

  • Pig, pork, nutrition, diet, growth, health, herbs, essential oils, antibiotic, antimicrobials, oregano, thymol, carvacrol, immunity