Hot Topic - Oregano Essential Oil Can Provide Support for Sow and Piglet Health and Performance

The modern day prolific sow faces many challenges in regards to her general health and lifetime performance. One commonly forgotten area in sow management is gut health. Ensuring the gut is well balanced and rich in diversity can help to improve sow feed efficiency, liveability and ensure the carryover of a healthy bacterial population to her litter.

Ensuring health and performance of sows and reduced need for medication in her progeny is fundamental in providing sufficient, safe and healthy food to meet global demand.

The number of piglets weaned per sow per year has been commonly used as a marker to determine the comparative productivity of breeding sows, and the number have increased drastically over the past 30 years. 

However, this increase has been associated with:

  • Lower piglet birth weight, coinciding with;
  • Elevated incidence of pre-weaning mortality, leading to;
  • Impaired post-weaning growth performance.


Sow and Piglet
Orego-Stim for Pigs


Piglet growth performance is directly related to colostrum and milk intake and quality, therefore driving piglet performance through improved maternal nutrition can be a cost effective way to maximise lifetime performance and the health of growing piglets.

Piglets lost prior to weaning represent a major economic loss for producers as well as a potential welfare target, while weaning homogenous and robust piglets is known to benefit later performance and lower the incidence of health issues.


Beneficial Compounds in Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano essential oil (OEO) has been shown to contain more than 100 beneficial compounds, with a complex mode of action. Utilising a natural oil which is consistently produced helps to ensure all active components are in balance and so the benefits seen from using natural OEO can be more diverse. 

Compounds such as ρ-cymene, carvacrol and thymol are well documented to have a role in appetite enhancement and antioxidant function, as well as being antibacterial and effective in both immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory processes. ρ-cymene and thymol are precursors to carvacrol and so there is a synergistic action when the active levels of these components are in balance.

*Using a synthetic product which has only one or two components cannot provide the multifactorial benefits of the natural oil.*

Furthermore, an overloading of the antibacterial action can actually impede growth of the beneficial bacteria in the gut. 

Published work has found natural OEO to be beneficial in sows to:

  • Aid lactation performance;
  • Feed intake;
  • Modification of the gut microbiota. 

These improvements can have a beneficial impact on piglet health and post-weaning performance.

Previous findings have also shown that dietary supplementation of natural OEO throughout gestation in sows significantly decreased oxidative stress markers at the time of farrowing. This may have a positive effect on sow energy levels and therefore help to reduce time taken for farrowing, helping to ensure more live born.

Therefore, OEO supplementation could help drive sow reproductive success through the management of intestinal health and reducing enteric stress.

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