Dietary fiber and zinc additives on performance and intestinal health of Escherichia coli challenged piglets

ABSTRACT This study aimed to evaluate the effects of zinc oxide and a low level of encapsulated zinc oxide, with or without dietary fiber, on the performance and intestinal health of weaned piglets. A total of 112 piglets were used, divided into four treatment groups: basal diet with zinc oxide (ZnO); basal diet with zinc oxide and dietary fiber (ZnO+DF); basal diet with encapsulated low zinc oxide (LZnOE); and basal diet with LZnOE and DF (LZnOE+DF). Piglets were challenged with E . coli K88 + , weighed weekly and the fecal score was evaluated daily. One pig per pen was slaughtered to evaluate the production of volatile fatty acids, intestinal microbial populations, intestinal morphology, and digestibility. The encapsulated zinc resulted in lower body weight and average daily gain, but, when associated with dietary fiber, had similar results to zinc oxide. Until 49 days of age, zinc oxide reduced diarrhoea ( p < 0.05). At 63 days of age the piglets subjected to LZnOE+DF treatment had lower diarrhoea than the pigs subjected to LZnOE treatment but higher than the ZnO and the ZnO+DF groups. Final weight and incidence of diarrhoea of pigs receiving LZnOE was worse than ZnO. LZnOE associated with DF provided the same final weight of piglets from the ZnO group.