Reply To: Oregano Essential Oil

  • theholisticgoat

    April 22, 2023 at 7:14 am

    Oregano essential oil improves piglet health and performance through maternal feeding and is associated with changes in the gut microbiota



    With a growing demand for safe and sustainable alternatives to antimicrobials, functional feed ingredients such as plant essential oils have been evaluated for their potential to improve gut health. Amongst these, oregano essential oil (OEO) with the main active compounds carvacrol and thymol has been reported to have antimicrobial and antioxidative properties resulting in improved intestinal barrier function and growth in pigs and poultry. However, its impact on the gut microbiota still remains unclear. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of an oregano essential oil phytobiotic on sow and piglet performance and faecal microbiota.


    Piglets from OEO supplemented sows were significantly heavier at one week of age and showed a trend for improved average daily weight gain from birth to weaning. Post-weaning, maternally supplemented piglets were numerically heavier at 10 weeks post-weaning and at slaughter with a reduced variability in bodyweight. Health records showed that piglets in the OEO supplemented litters had significantly reduced incidence of therapeutic treatment and reduced mortality. In both sows and piglets, the structure and composition of the faecal microbiota varied considerably over time. Sows supplemented with OEO during lactation showed an increase in the relative abundance of Lactobacillaceae family. In addition, there was an increase in the relative abundance of families known to be important in fibre digestion (Fibrobacteriaceae and Akkermansiaceae). Analysis of piglet microbiota at two weeks and four weeks of age revealed a relative decrease in Enterobacteriaceae while butyrate producers (Lachnospiraceae family) were increased at both timepoints.


    We hypothesise that the effects observed from this study were exerted through modulation of the gut microbial communities in the sow and her offspring through maternal microbial transfer. Understanding the link between the gut microbiota and dietary factors represents a keystone to improving health and performance for sustainable pig production. Reducing antimicrobial usage can help to reduce the risk of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which is a global focus for animal production.