Consumer concern on antibiotic resistance in pigs has led researchers to explore the alternatives, including plant extracts.
Researcher James Pettigrew and a colleague at the University of Illinois fed pigs a control diet and three other diets with extracts from garlic, ginger, and pepper.
Pettigrew found that the extracts reduced inflammation caused by both E. coli as well as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome. The inflammation caused by both diseases can be costly; it can divert nutrients away from growth and into a pig's immune system.
Pigs with E. coli fed with plant extracts as a feed additive exhibited less symptoms than infected pigs in the control group and were more efficient in feed use. PRRS infected pigs continued to eat and gain weight using plant extracts, and the study suggests using them could suppress ongoing inflammation and prevent secondary infections.