Effects of dietary chlortetracycline, Origanum essential oil, and pharmacological Cu and Zn on growth performance of nursery pigs.
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Two 47-d experiments were conducted with 21-d-old weaned pigs (PIC 1050, initially 6.1 kg) to determine the effects of feeding low or high doses of chlortetracycline (CTC) and antibiotic alternatives (Cu, Zn, and essential oil [EO]), alone or in combination, on growth performance. On d 5 postweaning, pens of 5 pigs were allotted to diet treatments with 8 (exp. 1) or 7 (exp. 2) replicate pens per treatment. In exp. 1, treatments were fed from d 5 to 26 postweaning and arranged in a 2 3 factorial with main effects of added ZnO (0 vs. 2,500 ppm of Zn) and CTC (0, 55, or 441 ppm). In exp. 2, treatments were fed from d 5 to 33 and structured in a (2 2 2) + 2 factorial with main effects of added CuSO4 (0 vs. 125 ppm Cu), added ZnO (0 vs. 3,000 ppm Zn from d 5 to 12 and 2,000 ppm Zn from d 12 to 33), and Regano EX (0 vs. 0.1% Regano EX containing 5% Origanum oil). The 2 additional treatments were subtherapeutic (55 ppm) and therapeutic (441 ppm) levels of CTC. Following the treatment period, a common diet without antimicrobial was fed until d 47. All diets contained 16.5 ppm Cu and 110 ppm Zn from the trace mineral premix. In exp. 1, no ZnO CTC interactions were observed. Feeding ZnO increased (P < 0.05) ADG, ADFI, and BW during the treatment period and increased (P < 0.05) ADG and ADFI overall (d 5 to 47). Pigs fed CTC had increased (linear, P < 0.05) ADG, ADFI, and BW during the treatment period and had marginally significant increases (linear, P < 0.10) in overall ADG and ADFI, but overall G:F tended (quadratic, P = 0.070) to increase then decrease as CTC increased. During the treatment period in exp. 2, EO did not affect ADG or ADFI, whereas pharmacological levels of Cu, Zn, and CTC increased (P < 0.05) ADG with coinciding increases (P = 0.055, 0.006, and linear 0.079, respectively) in ADFI. Copper, Zn, and CTC did not affect G:F. EO decreased (P = 0.009) G:F. Diet treatments had minimal carryover effects on subsequent nursery pig growth performance. Overall from d 5 to 47, Cu increased (P = 0.018) ADG, Zn increased (P < 0.05) ADG and ADFI, and EO tended to decrease (P = 0.086) G:F. In conclusion, increased dietary Cu, Zn, or CTC improved weanling pig performance while EO elicited no growth benefits. The benefits of added Zn from ZnO and CTC were additive and could be included together in diets to maximize growth performance of weaned pigs.