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The effects of sensory functional ingredients on food preferences, intake and weight gain in juvenile pigs

By Caroline Clouard, Marie-Christine Meunier-Salaün, David Val-Laillet

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When exposed to a novel diet during food transition, pigs often decrease voluntarily their food intake, which can lead to impaired growth. The aim of the present study was to test the palatability of eight unknown food additives (mixture of various essential oils and other plant extracts) and to identify among them the additives that were likely to improve food preferences, intake and weight gain in juvenile pigs. In Experiment 1, 12 juvenile female pigs were subjected to one- and two-way choice tests to investigate their spontaneous preferences between a standard grower diet and nine experimental diets composed of the familiar grower diet added with the sensory functional ingredients (N1–N8) at predefined concentrations. As the control diet was preferred over the N5, N6, N7 and N8 diets, only the N1, N2, N3 and N4 additives were selected for Experiment 2. In Experiment 2, 12 juvenile female pigs were subjected to two-choice feeding tests to investigate their relative preferences between the four remaining experimental diets. Overall, the analysis of individual and collective consumption and preferences suggests that some additives might be more palatable than others, at the tested concentrations, and that preferences are subjected to a great inter-individual variability. Experiment 2 enabled to identify the N1 and N3 additives as the best candidates for Experiment 3. In Experiment 3, the spontaneous food intake of 24 juvenile female pigs was assessed during a food transition. After nine days during which they were fed a familiar starter diet, the pigs were divided into three experimental groups and fed an unfamiliar grower diet added with either the N1 additive, the N3 additive, or with no additive (control). Albeit the adjunction of the functional ingredients in the novel diet did not increase food intake or weight gain in these particular experimental conditions, it might enable to maintain a normal consumption the day of the food transition, contrary to the control diet, although the results were not significant. Further studies using complementary tests where a unique food is provided in controlled conditions, in addition to two-choice tests, might enable to investigate more accurately the efficiency of the sensory additives to improve food palatability, preferences and intake in pigs.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 138
Issue 1
Pages 36-46
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2012.01.016
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Essential oils
  2. Feed additives
  3. palatability
  4. Pigs
  5. sweeteners