Weaning is often a challenge with considerable risk of enteric diseases caused by various bacteria. One alternatives to growth promoters under study is essential oils. Those are extracted from plants, or synthetically made and are known to sometimes have beneficial properties as flavoring, stimulation of enzyme secretion, antioxidant, and/or microbiome-altering activities.
The objective of this study was to determine if feeding sows and/or piglets benzoic acid paired with an essential oil blend can enhance sow and pig performance during lactation, piglet weight gain in the nursery, and survivability to market. A total of 48 sows and their progeny were used. Two consecutive farrowing groups were used. Sows were fed diets 5 to 7 days before farrowing and throughout lactation. Sows and their litters were based for parity and BW and randomly allotted to the initial lactation treatment. The lactation dietary treatments include a control lactation diet and a diet with benzoic acid and an essential oil blend as 4.53 kg/ton and 0.09 kg/ton, respectively. At 7 d before scheduled weaning, whole litters of piglets were assigned to a creep treatment or no creep was offered. The creep treatments include a control diet and a diet with benzoic acid and an essential oil blend at an inclusion level of 2 kg/ton and 0.09 kg/ton, respectively. Both creep diets contained 1% added chromic oxide as an indigestible marker.
For sow and piglet performance in the farrowing house, adding benzoic acid and an essential oil blend to the maternal diet did not affect litter performance or weaning weight of the piglets. From the fecal swabbing litters, the day before weaning indicated that the pigs did not eat the creep feed. The nursery pig BW on d 12 or d 45 post-weaning were not different than those from maternal diet or the presence/absence of creep feed in the farrowing house. Moreover, the survivability of pigs from weaning to market did not increase due to maternal diet.
In conclusion, adding benzoic acid and an essential oil blend to diets fed to the sows and/or piglets did not enhance sow and pig performance during lactation. Also, those treatments did not influence nursery pig performance or survivability to market.
Thayer, M. T.; Nelssen, J. L.; Langemeier, A.; Morton, J.; Ou, Z.; and Bergstrom, J. R. (2017) "The Effects of Feeding Benzoic Acid and Essential Oils on Sows and Litter Performance," Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station Research Reports: Vol. 3: Iss. 7. https://doi.org/10.4148/2378-5977.7458