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Alternatives to ZnO in pig feed: oregano oil and garlic

06-02 | |
Oregano essential oil and purple garlic offer similar or superior results to ZnO when added to pig feed. Photo: Canva
Oregano essential oil and purple garlic offer similar or superior results to ZnO when added to pig feed. Photo: Canva

Scientists from Spain and Scotland found that a combination of oregano essential oil and purple garlic in pig feed can serve as an alternative to zinc oxide (ZnO).

ZnO has been banned from use at pharmacological levels in the European Union since mid-2022. It is under scrutiny in other areas in the world. The compound is a pollutant for the environment and contributes to the development of antimicrobial resistance.

Similar or superior results to ZnO

The peer-reviewed journal Animals published the study in late 2023. A news release from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) also devoted attention to it. The bottom line is that oregano essential oil and purple garlic in pig feed offer similar or superior results to ZnO. They affect the structure of the intestine, bacterial species present in the intestine, and resistance to antimicrobials of indicator bacteria.

The researchers gave several groups of weaned piglets different concentrations of oregano essential oil and purple garlic powder, ZnO or a combination of both. The control group received none of these compounds.

Results

The research team found the piglet groups that received the highest doses of oregano essential oil and purple garlic powder had the best results for the measured parameters. The results were similar or superior to those for the group that received ZnO.

The team conducted the trials on a commercial farm to replicate the conditions found in a typical farm in order to facilitate the direct application of the results.

Resilience and sustainability

In the news release, SRUC research associate Jorge Rivera Gomis said that the research “will help make pig production more resilient and sustainable by tackling current challenges such as antimicrobial resistance; reducing environmental contamination; meeting consumer demands of sustainably produced food; and adapting to new regulations and trends in animal production.”

It is not the first time the combination of oregano and garlic has been put to the test. In 2022, a special edition of “Gut Health” spent attention to the effects of a similar combination on coccidiosis in broilers.

Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world
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