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J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2005 Aug;89(7-8):244-52.

Efficiency of Echinacea purpurea on performance and immune status in pigs.

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Technische Universität München, Fachgebiet Tierernährung, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany.


The aim of the present investigation was to examine the inclusion of the dried herb Echinacea purpurea (L.) MOENCH as feed additive in diets of sows, piglets, and grower/finisher pigs on growth performance, blood picture, plasma enzymes including proliferation of lymphocytes, antibody status, and protein and immune globulin content of colostrum. The control groups were supplemented with alfalfa meal. The sows (total 36) received 0%, 1.2%, or 3.6% Echinacea cobs in the diet from day 85 to day 110 of gestation and 0%, 0.5%, or 1.5% Echinacea cobs up to day 28 of lactation. No significant differences were found for growth performance, weight loss, blood picture, plasma enzymes, and colostrum composition. Performance of the sucking piglets was not impaired either during lactation or during a 4 week observation period after weaning. The health status was similar in all treatment groups. In a second experiment, lasting 6 weeks, with 36 piglets (5.8-22.1 kg body weight), 1.8% Echinacea cobs, or 20 mg/kg feed Flavomycin were supplemented. No significant differences were found for the recorded parameters. Feed conversion ratio (kg feed/kg gain) of the Echinacea group was slightly (4%) increased (1.54 vs. 1.60). In a third trial, 48 grower/finisher pigs were used during a 9-week experimental period with two supplementation phases (weeks 1-3 and weeks 7-9). The experimental groups received 0%, 1.5% cobs or 4-6 ml pressed juice (commercial standard) per day respectively. Vaccination with Swine erysipelas was implemented in weeks 1 and 5 to determine the specific immune response. Growth performance and blood picture for all groups were similar, however, feed conversion of both Echinacea supplemented groups was significantly (p < 0.03) better than of the unsupplemented control group (2.44 vs. 2.51). In addition, the Swine erysipelas antibodies showed a marked significance (p < 0.05) in regard of altitude in both supplemented groups. It is concluded, that E. purpurea might be used as a feed additive to achieve immune stimulating efficiency in pig production and increase feed-to-gain-conversion. The efficiency of cobs is comparable to a commercial juice product.

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