Potential of grape extract in comparison with therapeutic dosage of antibiotics in weaning piglets: Effects on performance, digestibility and microbial metabolites of the ileum and colon
Enteric diseases in piglets, such as post-weaning diarrhea (PWD), often require antibiotic treatment of the entire litter. Grape polyphenols may help overcome PWD and thereby reduce the need for antibiotics. The potential of a grape extract (GE; continuous in-feed supplementation) on performance of weaning piglets, compared with both negative (NC; corn-based diet) and positive control (PC; NC + in-feed antibiotic (amoxicillin) in a therapeutic dosage for day 1–day 5 post weaning) was assessed. Apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD) and microbial metabolites were also evaluated on two sampling points (day 27/28 and day 55/56). We assigned 180 weaning piglets (6.9 ± 0.1 kg body weight (BW)) to 6 male and 6 female pens per treatment with 5 piglets each. Animals from PC showed higher BW on day 13 compared with NC and GE, and a tendency for higher BW on day 56 (p = 0.080) compared to NC. Furthermore, PC increased the average daily feed intake in the starter phase (day 1–day 13), and the average daily gain in the early grower phase (day 14–day 24). Overall, GE improved the ATTD at the same level as PC (ash, acid-hydrolyzed ether extract), or at a higher level than PC (dry matter, organic matter, gross energy, crude protein, P). There were no effects on microbial metabolites apart from minor trends for lactic acid and ammonia. Dietary inclusion of GE may have beneficial effects compared to therapeutic antibiotics, as frequently used at weaning.