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A sustainable approach through combination of anti-inflammatory patented plant extracts, POWERJET®, on gut health and piglets performances at weaning

Feed transition, housing change, separation from mother and litter, physiological and immune variations are some of the great changes of weaning. Piglets are facing multi-factorial stresses in a short time. One of the most visible impacts of these stresses is the great decrease in feed intake after weaning. This drop-in feed intake is likely to cause difficulties to cover growth requirements, due to reduction of the villosities height and thus nutrient absorption area, and to the mobilisation of fat and muscle reserves. Besides these consequences, there are non-visible impacts at physiological and metabolic levels. Indeed weaning means the first encounter between piglets and some raw materials. Consequently animals have to adapt their enzymatic system in order to digest these new raw materials, which is an important physiological change. As the first reaction of piglets’ organism is to consider new feed as an antigen, they have also to adapt their immune system in order to accept this new feed. As 70 to 80% of the immune cells are located in the gut, this adaptation can generate local inflammation and oxidative stress. In contact with antigens, macrophages induce the production of pro-inflammatory and oxidative stress markers and this consumes a lot of energy and nutrients. To help animals coping with this stressful period, a combination of plant extracts named POWERJET® has been tested in a farm. These natural active ingredients have been selected for their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Former results have demonstrated the synergistic action between the three patented active molecules selected. One additional described property of these plant extracts is the modulation of intestinal motility which can be interesting to reduce diarrhoea disorders.

Preliminary research

A university trial has been conducted in Beauvais, France, in order to assess the impact of the three plant extracts on both intestinal integrity and inflammatory process. Human colon cells have been cultivated and then stimulated with a severe model of inflammation (cytokines cocktail). The combination of the three plant extracts has been tested to evaluate their impact on Trans-Epithelial Electric Resistance (TEER) and Interleukins 8 secretion (IL-8). The TEER is an indicator of intestinal integrity. Highest is the TEER, well preserved tight junctions of intestinal cells are and will ensure a good absorption of nutrients. IL-8 are pro-inflammatory markers and their productions are reflecting the level of the inflammation. Results of this preliminary research are presented on the Figure 1 and Figure 2.

Figure 1: Impact of POWERJET® on intestinal integrity: TEER results

After the inflammatory challenge, TEER is decreased, meaning that the intestinal integrity is altered and the challenge is working. The addition of the combination of the 3 plant extracts after the inflammatory challenge involved a significant increase of the TEER (p<0.05). 

Figure 2: Impact of POWERJET® on the inflammatory process

After the inflammatory challenge, IL-8 secretion is increasing meaning that the challenge is working. The combination of the 3 plant extracts decreased the secretion of IL-8 proving POWERJET® is able to limit the over activation of the immune system after an inflammatory challenge. These results assess the interest of such a combination of 3 plant extracts on 2 important criteria:

  • The preservation of intestinal integrity, avoiding the leaky gut syndrome

The modulation of the immune response to an inflammatory challenge, dedicating more nutrients for production needs instead of repairing damaged cells or support the immune response to fight against inflammation

In vivo trial on sows and piglets fed with or without POWERJET®

During the maternity period, a total of 77 sows (Youna genetic line) from 3 successive batches were divided into two groups: half of them were fed with POWERJET® 15 days before farrowing and during the whole lactation (21 days). The other half was fed without feed additive.

After weaning, 624 piglets from these 77 sows were followed during post-weaning period: half of them were fed with the plant extracts combination and the other half without feed additive. Four different groups of piglets were constituted depending on their own diet and depending on their mother’s diet (Figure 3). POWERJET® was distributed to half of piglets from weaning (21 days of age) until the end of post-weaning period (67 days of age). Pre-starter feed was offered from 21 days until 42 days of age, and starter feed from 42 days until 67 days of age. All formulas were without antibiotics, zinc oxide nor acidifier and were distributed ad libitum.  Data were subjected to analysis of variance.

Figure 3: experimental design

Results in maternity (from farrowing to weaning)

The number of dead piglets per sow between 48h after farrowing and weaning tended to decrease with the use of POWERJET®: 0.17 dead piglet in the test group compared to 0.46 dead piglet in the control group. There was no significant impact of the plant extracts on sows and piglets weights (Table 1).

Table 1: Performance results on maternity period

Results in post-weaning period

The performance was evaluated for each piglets group coming from sows having been fed with or without POWERJET®. Average Daily Gain (ADG) of piglets in post-weaning was significantly improved with POWERJET® (Figure 4). The best performances were obtained with the group of piglets fed with POWERJET® in post-weaning and originating from sows fed also with POWERJET®. ADG of this group of piglets was significantly improved by 11.4% (p<0.001) compared to ADG of control group (without POWERJET® in sows and piglets diets). Groups of piglets fed with plant extracts only in maternity or only in post-weaning obtained  better results than those of control group (respectively +4.9% and +3.5%). Improvement of ADG was observed in the global post-weaning period but also during the pre-starter and the starter periods suggesting that piglets fed with POWERJET® were better prepared to face the stresses and the great changes occurred during this period.

Figure 4: ADG of piglets in post-weaning period

Live weight of piglets was significantly increased by +2.15 kg/piglet (p<0.01) in the group fed with POWERJET® in maternity and post-weaning compared to negative control group. This growth improvement is due to higher feed intake (+48 g/d) and to better nutrients assimilation (-0.07 point FCR) as presented in Table 2.

Table 2: Piglets performances on post-weaning period (20-67 days)

This trial has demonstrated the great impact of sow diet on piglets’ performance. Best results were obtained when POWERJET® was distributed to sows from maternity period and then to piglets from weaning until the end of post-weaning period. A strong back-effect of POWERJET® used in maternity, on piglets’ zootechnical performances in post-weaning is observed. Effectively, when POWERJET® is distributed in maternity, main effects are visible on piglets after weaning and not during the distribution in maternity. This result highlights the great impact of sows’ metabolic stress’ management on future piglets’ performance.

Conclusion

The results of the in vitro trial performed on intestinal cell allowed to assess the anti-inflammatory properties of POWERJET®. This combination of plant extracts acts on the preservation of a gut health by preventing the leaky gut. Thus, better nutrient absorption and better nutrient use by the animals occurred when they are facing a stress period generating inflammation (farrowing, lactation, weaning…). With POWERJET®, more energy is allocated to production purpose instead of amplifying inflammatory process.