Antibiotics and chemical growth promoters have been withdrawn from farm animal feeds and herbs or herbal extracts have attracted increasing interest as an alternative. By the same health point of view, high content of PUFA in pork is desirable; however, their influence on meat oxidative stability, shelf life and processing is undesirable. Besides, they lead to deterioration of organoleptic quality by the oxidation process affecting on the meat's taste and flavour. Fat and meat quality should thus be balanced by feed additives or supplementation. Therefore, it is interesting to evaluate the combined impact of herbal extract mixture and oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids on growth performance and meat quality. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of an herbal extract mixture on pig performance and meat quality. The experiment was performed on 60 fatteners (60 ± 0.5–112 ± 2.0 kg). Group I (control) was fed with standard feed; groups II and III received the same feed supplemented with 150 mg BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene, synthetic antioxidant) or 500 mg of an herbal extract mixture (sage, nettle, lemon balm and coneflower) per kg of feed, respectively. In each group, half of the animals received 4% rapeseed oil, the other half soybean oil.
The herbal extracts had no effect on animal performance but significantly improved meat oxidative stability, lowered cholesterol and thrombogenicity (TI) index and increased PUFA content in meat. Slight differences between animals fed with rapeseed or soybean oils were observed. Pigs receiving herbal extracts had significantly higher PUFA/SFA ratios compared to control and BHT-supplemented pigs. They also had significantly lower TI indices than those in both remaining groups. There were no significant differences in atherogenic (AI) index and The hypocholesterolemic (h) to hypercholesterolemic (H) ratio (h/H). The meat of pigs receiving rapeseed oil was characterized by significantly higher n−6/n−3 ratios. Gilts meat had significantly lower AI and TI indices and a higher h/H index compared to barrow meat. The peroxidisability index (PI) was also significantly higher in gilt meat.
To summarize the results, it can be concluded that extracts from plants evaluated in this experiment did not change pig performance, but improved the fatty acid pattern, oxidative stability and odor and taste of meat. They also reduced the cholesterol content of meat and reduced atherogenic indices.
Hanczakowska, E., Świątkiewicz, M., & Grela, E. R. (2015). Effect of dietary inclusion of a herbal extract mixture and different oils on pig performance and meat quality. Meat science, 108, 61-66. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.meatsci.2015.05.020