Effects of Astragalus membranaceus, Codonopsis pilosula and allicin mixture on growth performance, nutrient digestibility, faecal microbial shedding, immune response and meat quality in finishing pigs

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Considering the high demand for organic animal products in the consumer market, attempts have been made to promote the efficiency of pig production by nutritional strategies and deliver the same benefits as antibiotics. Particular interest is now being paid to the phytogenic feed additives due to their plant‐derived properties and growth‐promoting effects (Ao et al., 2011; Lan et al., 2016). Astragalus membranaceus (Huangqi), including flavonoids, polysaccharides, saponins, amino acids and other trace elements, is a widely used traditional Chinese herbs because of its role in cardioprotective, immunomodulation, antioxidative, antitumour and anti‐inflammatory activities (Zhang et al., 2009; Liu et al., 2011; Zhong et al., 2012). Codonopsis pilosula has been widely used as a traditional medicine in China, Japan and Korea due to its beneficial effects on immune, digestive, antibacterial, antioxidant and hematopoietic system (Wang et al., 1996, 1997; Ng et al., 2004; Sun and Liu, 2008). It can be used to treat fatigue, thirst and loss of appetite. Allicin, the main bioactive substance of garlic, which account for some effects of garlic (Amagase et al., 2001), has antibacterial, antiparasite, antifungal activities (Ross et al., 2001). Furthermore, herbal extracts have been observed to improve growth performance (Kong et al., 2007; Cullen et al., 2005; Tatara et al., 2005), digestibility (Yin et al., 2009), immune response (Kong et al., 2007) and intestinal health (Kong et al., 2007 108; Ding et al., 2011). Complex mixture of herbal extracts has a greater biological effectiveness than individual extract do (Wagner and Ulrich‐Merzenich, 2009). Shoba et al. (1998) demonstrated that the supplementation of piperine and curcumin mixture to humans and rats enhanced the bioavailability of curcumin by 20 and 1.5 times respectively. Moreover, synergistic interaction between the bioactive constituents of herbal mixture has been demonstrated in vivo and in vitro (Krotkiewski and Janiak, 2008; Yang et al., 2009). Therefore, we can hardly according to former believe about the effect of certain herds or their active components when used more than one herd as feed additives. Thus, this study was aimed to evaluate the effects of Astragalus membranaceus, Codonopsis pilosula and allicin mixture (HM) supplementation on growth performance, nutrient digestibility, faecal microbial shedding, immune response and meat quality in finishing pigs.
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