Orego-Stim for Suckling (Pre-Starter) Piglets

by 5m Editor
9 August 2011, at 12:00am

Orego-Stim helps to improve palatability and therefore encourages the piglets to eat solid food while at the same time keeping the gut clean and preventing/controlling diarrhoea, according to Technical Bulletin 19 from Meriden Animal Health.


A head start for a piglet is vital for its superior lifetime performance and health. There is clear evidence that increasing the growth rate of piglets prior to weaning has a marked positive effect both on lifetime performance and on the profitability of the pig enterprise (Mahan and Lepine, 1991). Suckling pigs grow at approximately 220g per day between birth and weaning (Boyd et al., 1995; King et al., 1993) but this is far below the biological potential. Artificially reared pigs have been shown to grow in excess of 400g per day (Dunshea and Walton, 1995; Harrell et al., 1993; Hodge, 1974). Because the sow is not able to supply all the necessary nutritional requirements of the piglets via the milk, a good pre-starter feed is essential to prepare the piglets for a smooth weaning transition.

The two main challenges a piglet farmer faces at the pre-starter stage are the control of piglet diarrhoea and the transition to solid feed intake.

The Challenges

1. Diarrhoea

It is a fact that of all diseases in sucking piglets, diarrhoea is the most widespread and probably the most significant. In various outbreaks, it accounts for high morbidity and mortality. In a well managed farm, at any time, there should not be more than three per cent of piglets needing treatment for diarrhoea. Piglets dying from diarrhoea should not be more than 0.5 per cent, although piglet mortality rates may escalate to more than seven per cent and even up to 100 per cent in cases of TGE outbreaks. The main causes of pre-weaning piglet diarrhoea are summarised in a table as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Common causes of diarrhoea in suckling piglets
Common causes of diarrhoea in suckling piglets Days Level of mortality
0-3 3-7 7-14 15-21
Porcine epidemic diarrhoea (coronavirus) *
Transmissible gastro-enteritis (coronavirus) ***
Porcine reproductive & respiratory syndrome (PRRS virus) Variable
Agalactia **
Clostridium perfringens ***
Enterotoxigenic. E. coli **
Coccidiosis (Isospora suis) *
Rotavirus *
*Low, ** Moderate, *** High
Adapted from

The usage of Orego-Stim® during this period can help in controlling and reducing incidences of diarrhoea. This is due to the fact that the essential oils within Orego-Stim consists predominantly of a unique ratio and concentration of the natural phenolic compounds, carvacrol and thymol, which are known to be powerful antimicrobial agents. Besides its direct antibacterial mode of action, Orego-Stim® has also been proven to act indirectly upon the gut lining by increasing the rate of enterocyte turnover, which results in cellular exfoliation. The combination of these direct and indirect modes of action against bacteria can effectively prevent diarrhoea and gastrointestinal tract diseases in livestock animals.

This efficacy of Orego-Stim in the control of piglet diarrhoea is proven in the trials below.

A commercial trial was conducted to assess the efficacy of Orego-Stim in controlling piglet diarrhoea. In this trial, piglets from birth to 30 days old were divided into two groups: a control group whereby all piglets with signs of diarrhoea were treated with their routine antibacterial treatment, and an Orego-Stim group whereby piglets with diarrhoea were given 2ml Orego-Stim Liquid diluted 1:3 every 12 hours. Mortality and bodyweight were recorded at the end of the trial. This trial was conducted twice for higher reliability of results. Results of this trial (Figure 2) showed that piglets in the Orego-Stim group had 12.5 per cent lower mortality rates, and about 10 per cent higher body weights compared with piglets with diarrhoea treated with routine antibacterial treatments.

Figure 2. Mortality rate and bodyweight of piglets on day 30

Another commercial trial was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of Orego-Stim in the treatment of piglet coccidiosis. 660 piglets were randomly divided into two groups. The first group was treated with the farm’s standard treatment of 1ml toltrazuril orally, while the second group was treated with 3ml of Orego-Stim Liquid orally. Both treatments were administered on day 4. The results of the trial are shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Results of the coccidiosis trial
Criteria Orego-Stim Product X
Content Phytogenic Essential Oils Toltrazuril
Dose 3 ml 1 ml
Cost per head Ps 3.75/ US$0.068 Ps 5.00/ US%$0.091
Numbers treated 330 330
Age given 4th day 4th day
Week farrowed week 20 week 20
Vomition effect 1 (0.3%) 10 (3.1%)
Scouring incidence 19 (5.8%) 21 (6.6%)
Mortality due to scouring 0 (0.0%) 1 (0.3%)
Average birth weight 1.47 kg 1.46 kg
Age weaned 24 days 24 days
Average weaning weight 6.64 kg 6.59 kg
Weight Ranges
Class A 122 (39.1%) 147 (46.2%)
Class B 160 (51.3%) 131 (41.1%)
Class C 30 (9.6%) 40 (12.6%)

This trial shows that Orego-Stim Liquid 3ml is at least as effective as toltrazuril for the treatment of coccidiosis in piglets. The scouring incidence was slightly lower and the average weaning weight was slightly higher in the Orego-Stim-treated pigs as compared with piglets that were treated with toltrazuril. Besides being more cost effective, Orego-Stim resulted in fewer piglets vomiting after treatment than toltrazuril.

2. Improving solid feed intake

The main objective of the pre-starter stage is to prepare piglets for the weaning process, at which point the transition from milk to solid feed poses a major stress for piglets. A smooth transition from milk to solid feed can reduce problems and facilitates a quick, healthy start-up after weaning. One way of doing so is by improving palatability of feed as this will attract nursing pigs to dry feed and stimulate feed intake, which in turn promotes regular intake of feed needed for successful early weaning programmes. It is crucial that piglets eat properly in order to grow in a healthy manner.

Phenols are well-known aromatic substances that are commonly used as flavourings. The natural phenols contained within Orego-Stim act as appetisers to enhance feed palatability. Its isoprenoids stimulate both the senses of smell and taste in pigs, by triggering the olfactory and glossopharyngeal pathways of the cranial nerves, stimulating more saliva production. As a result, the piglets are stimulated to consume solid feed. According to Gertenbach and Bilkei (2001), certain essential oil supplementation has had a positive influence on feed intake, accumulated weight gain and feed conversion in weaning pigs.

The results of this trial (Figure 4) showed that Orego-Stim helps to improve the creep feed intake of piglets. Although bodyweight gain in piglets is also due to the improved milk production from sows given Orego-Stim, the significant increase in creep feed intake also plays a part helping the piglets get used to solid feed so that a smoother transition during the weaning process can be achieved.

Figure 4. Efficacy of Orego-Stim in increasing creep feed intake in piglets
(Means in the treatment groups differ significantly at p<0.05)


Orego-Stim helps to improve palatability and therefore encourages the piglets to eat solid food while at the same time keeping the gut clean and preventing/controlling diarrhoea. Orego-Stim Liquid can be administered directly to piglets for control of diarrhoea, and Orego-Stim Powder can be included in creep feed at the inclusion rate of 1kg per tonne of feed to enhance palatability and to keep gut microflora in check.

Further Reading

- Find out more information on the diseases mentioned in this article by clicking here.

August 2011