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J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2006 Dec;90(11-12):500-10.

Effects of essential oils from fennel (Foeniculi aetheroleum) and caraway (Carvi aetheroleum) in pigs.

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Thuringian State Institute of Agriculture, Jena, Germany.


The ban of antibiotics as a feed additive requires alternatives to stabilize the health and performance particularly of the young animals. Essential oils obtained from fennel seed (Foeniculi aetheroleum) and caraway seed (Carvi aetheroleum) were tested in diets for weaned piglets in comparison with either a diet without feed additive or with a combination of formic acid and copper (positive control). Four groups of sixteen piglets (live weight 7 kg, age 26 days) received diets without (1) or with supplements of 7.5 g formic acid + 160 mg Cu/kg (2), 100 mg fennel oil/kg (3) or 100 mg caraway oil/kg (4) during 3 weeks after weaning. In the subsequent 4 weeks, all piglets were fed a diet without these additions. Fennel oil contained almost 2/3 anethol, approximately 1/5 fenchon and the remaining part consisting of alpha + beta-pinen, limonen (p-mentha-1,8-dien) and estragol. In the caraway oil, half of the contents was represented by limonen and the other half by carvon. There were no piglet losses and only few cases of diarrhoea. The combination of formic acid and copper increased feed consumption by 27% and daily weight gain by 25%. There were no differences in the performance between the group fed fennel oil and the control without additives. Piglets fed caraway oil tended to consume less feed and to gain approximately 10% less. In feed choice experiments, pigs consumed the same two diets from two troughs with 50% of total feed amount, as expected. The diets containing fennel or caraway oils were consumed at less than 50%. If the diet contained 100 mg fennel oil/kg, the decrease of percentual feed intake was significant. The results of the feeding experiment and of the feed choice experiment question the classification of fennel and caraway oils as flavour additives or as 'appetite promoters' in diets for weaned piglets.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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