Animal Nutrition 2

Research title:

Natural extracts in pig nutrition

Tutor: Prof. Grazia Pastorelli


Contact details:

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Tel: 02-50315756

Via Trentacoste, 2, 20134 Milan

Dipartimento di Medicina Veterinaria (DiMeVet)



State of the art 

Since the ban on antibiotic feed additives in the European Union, research in alternative substances has gained in importance. As a result, new commercial additives derived from plants, are under studies in different physiological stage and animals. These botanicals have received increased attention as possible growth performance enhancers via their beneficial influence on lipid metabolism, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, ability to stimulate digestion, immune activity, and antiinflammatory potential.

In pig specie, weaning is a crucial period since stressant factors occur: the digestive tract is compromised for loss of nutrient intake and the capacity for digestion and absorption of nutrients may be reduced; the antioxidant status declines after weaning, increasing morbidity and mortality. Dietary integration with natural extracts with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effcts may be a valuable therapeutic approach to minimize post-weaning complications and increase welfare since the response to oxidative stress is considered as a welfare parameter in swine. In sows, substantial physiological changes occur in the transition period from late gestation to lactation; nutrients are reallocated to the mammary tissue, massive mammary growth occurs and milk production is being initiated. Plant extracts, therefore, may present an opportunity to enhance lactating sow and litter performance when used as dietary supplements. Finally the pork market has been subjected to several changes influenced by consumer demands, which have focused the production toward safer meat. The addition of natural products into animal diets seems to improve meat quality. New insights are needed to improve knowledge to be shared at national and international level.



Aims of the project

The aim of the project is to evaluate the effects of dietary natural extracts supplementation (to be defined) in weaned piglets and/or sow and growing pigs with immunostimolatory /antioxidant/calmant, detoxifying/diuretic and antioxidant properties respectively. A quantification of polyphenols and/or other micronutients in feeds will be done. In each trial body weight and feed consumption will be recorded in order to evaluate productive performance. In sow trial, backfat at the P2 position on entry to farrowing house and weaning and piglet data will be collected.

Concerning growing pigs trial, in addition to the performance in vivo, there will be followed also data post mortem: carcass weight, dressing percentage and backfat thickness. At slaughtering samples of muscle will be collected for further determination of chemical (chemical composition, oxidative stability..) and physical parameters (color, drip loss..). Batches of fat and thin cuts will be obtained from the experimental and control animals and there will be sent in factory in order to produce salami. On the transformed product, analysis on chemical and /or other analysis related to quality (fatty acid composition..) will be performed.

In each trial, in vivo, in addition to the routine monitoring sanitary test, an aliquot of blood samples on a representative number of animals will be preserved in order to measure antioxidant status and biochemical indices according to the potential effect of the natural product used. Assessment of welfare will be performed in weaning and growing trial. Results will provide data on effects of dietary natural products in pig farming.


Recent publications of the tutor in the field

1. Pastorelli G., Raffaella R., Guarino M., Borgonovo F., Candotti P., Corino C. (2016). Livestock Precision Farming and the Kit Radicaux Libres Test: Two Simple Approaches to Detect Variation in Piglets’ Behaviour and Welfare. Journal of Agricultural Science, 8, (3):44-55.

2. Pastorelli G., Rossi R., Ratti S., Corino C. (2015). Plant extracts in heavy pig feeding: effects on quality of meat and Cremona salami. Animal Production Science, 56 (7) 1199-1207.

3. Di Giancamillo A., Rossi R., Pastorelli G., Deponti D., Carollo V., Casamassima D., Domeneghini C., C. Corino (2015). The effects of dietary verbascoside on blood and liver oxidative stress status induced by a high n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids diet in piglets. Journal of Animal Science, 93, (6): 2849-2859.

4. Rossi R., Pastorelli G., Cannata S., Tavaniello S., Maiorano G., Corino C. (2013). Effect of long term dietary supplementation with plant extract on carcass characteristics, meat quality and oxidative stability in pork. Meat Science, 95: 542-548.

5. Pastorelli G., Rossi, R., Corino C. (2012). Influence of Lippia citriodora verbascoside on growth performance, antioxidant status, and serum immunoglobulins content in piglets. Czech Journal of Animal Science, 57, (7): 312-322.