This study evaluated the effects of supplementing sow diets with oregano essential oils (OEO) during gestation and lactation on sow colostrum and milk composition and on the growth pattern and immune status of suckling pigs. A total of 70 second-parity sows were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 gestation dietary treatments within 24 h after service: control (CON) or CON + 250 mg/kg of OEO (OREG). In lactation, sows were again assigned to either the CON or OREG dietary treatment. Thus, the lactation treatments were CON-CON, CON-OREG, OREG-CON, and OREGOREG. Colostrum and blood samples were collected from 6 sows per lactation dietary treatment. Thymus lymphocyte (T lymphocyte) subpopulations (γδ, cluster of differentiation 8, and 32 cluster of differentiation 4) were enumerated in blood and mammary secretions along with IGF-1, IgG, and IgA concentrations. Piglet growth rate were determined from 18, 17, 17, and 18 litters from the CON-CON, CON-OREG, OREGCON, and OREG-OREG lactation dietary treatments, respectively. Growth rates were determined in 630 piglets, and piglets were individually identified and weighed on 1, 5, 9, 12, 16, and 19 d of age. Oregano essential oil supplementation during gestation or lactation had no effect (P > 0.05) on GE, CP, GE:CP, GE:fat, and IGF-1 in sow milk. Reductions of the fat percentage in milk on d 7 (P < 0.05) and d 14 (P = 0.07) were found in sows supplemented with OEO during lactation compared with those in the CON treatment. Milk from sows supplemented with OEO during lactation had the greatest number of T lymphocytes compared with those in the lactation CON treatment on d 14 of lactation (P < 0.01). The number of T lymphocytes in milk was greater for sows in the CON-OREG treatment compared with those other treatments on d 14 of lactation (P < 0.05). Energy intake was greater on d 1 to 5 in piglets from sows fed OEO during gestation than those from sows in the CON treatment (P < 0.05). A trend (P = 0.10) for greater milk intake was observed in piglets from sows supplemented with OEO during gestation compared with those from sows in the CON treatment. Similarly, a tendency for an increase in ADG on d 1 to 5 was found in piglets from sows supplemented with OEO during gestation compared with those from sows in the CON treatment (P = 0.10). Insulin-like growth factor-1 at birth and on d 7 and 14 of lactation did not differ among piglets from sows assigned to the different dietary treatments. Oregano essential oil supplementation of sow diets did not affect (P > 0.05) immunoglobulin concentrations in piglets after suckling. Supplementing sow diets with OEO during gestation or lactation did not affect (P > 0.05) the T lymphocytes, percentage of T-lymphocyte subpopulations, and natural killer cell activity of piglets during lactation. Supplementing sow diets with 250 mg/kg of OEO during gestation and lactation did not affect the growth potential of and immune responses in suckling piglets.
- Immune response
- Oregano essential oil