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Plant extracts can reduce worms in pigs

A non-pharmaceutical approach to worm control is especially valued by organic pig producers. Plant extracts may be the solution, according to a new study from the Animal Sciences Group in the Netherlands.

The objective of the study was to test herb alternatives for the prevention and control of a mild infection of Ascaris Suum  in growing and finishing pigs. Two different herb mixtures were tested. Feed was supplemented with a 3% herb mixture, thereby adding 1% Thymus vulgaris, 1% Melissa officinalis and 1% Echinacea purpurea to the diet, or with a 4% herb mixture, thereby adding the mentioned herbs plus 1% Camellia sinensis (black tea) to the diet.

The pigs were infected with 1,000 worm eggs each. Comparatively, a negative control group (no treatment) and a positive control group (treatment with the conventional synthetic drug Flubendazole) were included. An experiment was conducted with 32 young boars (average starter weight was 24 kg) purchased from a SPF-pig farm. The pigs were monitored during 67 days in the period December 2006 until February 2007.

Results
From this experiment it was concluded that a diet with a herb mixture containing 1% Thymus vulgaris, 1% Melissa officinalis and 1% Echinacea purpurea for growing and finishing pigs did not decrease the number of pigs which are infected with Ascaris suum, but did reduce the average number of worms in the gastro intestinal tract.

The addition of 1% black tea to this herb mixture did not result in a lower number of infected pigs and also did not reduce the average number of worms in pigs.

Flubendazole appeared to be an effective deworming product.

On organic farms with a low worm infection probably a combination of a conventional synthetic drug and a diet with herb mixture containing 1% Thymus vulgaris, 1% Melissa officinalis and 1% Echinacea purpurea is an option.

Examination of faeces of sows, weaners and growing and finishing pigs regularly, and also the percentage of disapproved livers of growing and finishing pigs, can support monitoring the level of worm infection on the farm. Based on this monitoring probably a strategy of varying deworming with a synthetic drug and a diet with herb mixture can be developed for the different categories of pigs.

Further research on this method, and also the suitable period to supply this herb mixture to sows related to stage of pregnancy and weaners related to age and feed intake, is desirable.

Related website:
• Animal Sciences Group

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