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Effect of adding guava leaf (Psidium guajava) and garlic (Allium sativum) powders in diets on growth performance and diarrhea incidence of weaned piglets

Nguyen Thi Thuy and Nguyen Cong Ha

College of Agriculture, CanTho University, 3/2 street, Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho City


An experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects of inclusion of garlic (GA) or guava leaf (GU) powders in diets on the performances and health status of weaned piglets. A total of 36 crossbred castrated (Yorkshire x Landrace) male piglets (7.3 ± 1.0 kg/piglet) at weaning (4 weeks age) were allocated into three treatment groups in a randomized complete block design. In each group, the piglets were divided randomly into 4 pens (replicates) with 3 piglets per pen. The treatments were: 1/Control diet (Cont) was basal diet without any supplementation; 2/ GAD: Basal diet supplemented with garlic powder at 2 g/kg feed; 3/ GUD: Basal diet with guava leaf powder supplementation in the diet at 2g/kg feed. The results showed that, average daily gain (ADG) was highest in GAD (349.3 g/piglet/ day), the lowest was in Cont (331.4 g/piglet/ day). Feed consumption of piglets was almost similar in all diets around 602-610 g/piglet/day in average 5 weeks. So, feed conversion ratio (FCR) was lower in GAD (1.72kg feed/kg gain) than that in the others two diets Cont (1.83 kg feed/ kg gain) and GUD ((1.78 kg feed/ kg gain). Piglets fed GAD (7.43% and 0.102) and GUD (6.92% and 0.101) were lower diarrhea incidence and faecal score than piglets fed Cont (11.9 % and 0.141). Piglets fed GAD (3.21 x105CFU E.coli/g feces) was lowest affected by E.coli in feces than piglets fed GUD (3.54 x105CFU E.coli/g feces) and Cont (4.10 x105CFU E.coli/g feces). In conclusion, supplementation of 2g/kg feed of garlic or guave leaf powders in the diets for weaning piglets trend to improve average daily gain, feed conversion ratio, reduced diarrhoea incidence, faecal score and E.coli in feces of piglets.

Key words: diarrhea incidence, E. coli, faecal score, garlic powder, guava leaf powder, weaned piglets


Pig production is dominant and rapidly developing in the Mekong Delta of Viet Nam. At householder scale, the farmers often used commercial feed supplemented with antibiotics for weaning piglets, because at this stage the piglets suffer the stress of weaning and there is often a high incidence of diarrhea, usually caused by E.coli. According to Van Breda et al (2017), the prevalence of diarrhea caused by E.coli in pre-weaning is around 17% while after weaning it can reach 24%. And Rhouma et al (2017) reported the diarrhea affecting piglets during the first 2 weeks after weaning and is characterized by sudden death or dehydration, which leads to growth delay and damage to the adaptive immune systems of piglets. So, antibiotics are often used to prevent or treat the diarrhea disease of piglets at small scale farm. However, concerns about antimicrobial resistance and environmental pollution have led to a limited application of antibiotics as growth promoters. Moreover, from the year 2020, the using of antibiotics has been limited to supplement in the animal feed in Vietnam. Therefore, the utilization of antibiotics of natural origin become an interest in recent years, in which there is a wide range of plants with medicinal potential. Many natural products derived from plants have been utilized in pig diets to promote growth performance and the immunological response (Liu et al 2013; Sampath et al 2020). And using of herbal extracts as natural antioxidants, growth promoters and for disease prevention (Hanczakowska and Swiatkiewicz 2012; Bontempo et al 2014). Among these, garlic has bioactive components that act as antibacterial, and has been found to inhibit bacterial growth (Wang et al ,2011); and guava leaves also have been used to treat bacterial and parasitic infections in many researches (Díaz-de-Cerio et al 2017), the antioxidants in the guava foliage include essential oils, polysaccharides, minerals, vitamins, tannins ..,which can have potential use in functional feeds to improve the health of animals (Naseer et al 2018). At present, investigating the effects of these herbal powders in pig diets is limited. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the effects of garlic and guava leaf powders supplementation in the diets on growth performance and health status of weaned piglets during 5 weeks of post weaning.

Materials and methods

Animals and experimental design

Thirty six crossbred (Yorkshire x Landrace) castrated male piglets at weaning (4 weeks age), from 8 litters (4-5 male piglets/litter), whose body weights were on the average 7.3 ± 1.0 kg (mean ± SD) were used. All piglets were allocated randomly into three groups of twelve in a randomized complete block design, balanced for initial body weight and litter origin. In each group, the piglets were divided randomly into four pens (replicates) three piglets/pen and each group was fed one of three diets for 5 weeks. The pens as the experimental unit had concrete floors with no litter, and each pen was equipped with a feeder and nipple drinker.

Photo 1. Garlic powder Photo 2. Guava leaf powder

The treatments were:

1/ Control diet (Cont): Basal diet no supplementation product

2/ GAD: Basal diet + Garlic powder at 2 g/kg feed

3/ GUD: Basal diet + Guava leaf powder at 2g/kg feed.

Feed and supplementation

The diets were formulated to contain around 19.5% CP and 12.7 MJ/kg of metabolisable energy (ME). Feed ingredients included rice bran, broken rice, maize meal, soya bean meal and fish meal; the basal diet was supplemented with a standard mixture of vitamins and minerals. The Basal diet (Cont) was a basal diet without any supplementation; the supplemented with garlic powder (GAD) or guava leaf powder (GUD) at 2 g/kg of feed as experimental treatments. The rations were given in four meals per day at 08:00h, 11:00h, 14:00h and 17:00h. The refusals were collected the following morning before the first meal. Samples were taken and stored at -18oC for DM analysis, and feed intake was also calculated for each week.

Supplementation products processing

Table 1. Feed formulation and composition of the basal diet



Rice bran


Maize meal


Broken rice


Soya bean meal


Fish meal




Chemical composition,%



Crude protein


Ether extract




Crude fiber




ME (MJ/kg feed)


Garlic were peeled and chopped into smaller pieces and to be dried in the oven, then proceed with grinding, sifting, and storage for whole experimental using. Similarly, guava leaves were dried, ground and screened into a fine powder by a modern machine with high fineness, and then both storage for the whole experiment.

Table 2. Chemical composition of supplemented products

composition, % DM

powder (GA)

Guava leaf
powder (GU)
















Recordings, diarrhea score and E.coli in feces

The piglets were weighed individually at the experimental starting (weaning at 4 weeks age), and 6th and 9th week of age. The feed offered and refused were weighed daily to calculate daily feed intake, growth rate and feed conversion ratio (feed/gain) also were calculated. The health status of piglets during the first 2 weeks of experiment and then last 3 weeks continuously after weaning was assessed by faecal consistency scoring using a four-grade system, where 0 corresponded to firm and dry (normal); 1 to pasty; 2 to thick and fluid; and 3 to watery (Cupere et al 1992). Scoring was performed twice daily by two independent individuals and the incidence of diarrhea (%) was calculated as the sum of the total number of diarrhoeal piglets over the period divided by the number of piglet days in the period multiplied by 100. The faecal score was calculated as the sum of the diarrhea score over the period divided by the number of piglet days in the period.

Quantity of E.coli (CFU/g) in pigs’ feces samples collected in the late stage were determined by colony counting method. Homogenous samples were implanted in appropriate agar environment containing lactose, and then incubated at 440C for 24 hours. The number of characteristic colonies having the shape of coliforms is counted and then confirmed E.coli by IMViC (Indol, Methyl Red, Voges Proskauer and Citrate) trials (Tran Linh Thuoc, 2006). The formula of quantity of E.coli (CFU/g) is presented below.

(CFU/g) = N/( n1vf1+ … + nivfi) * R

N: The total number of colonies counted f­­­1: Dilution at each plates

ni: The number of plates in each dilution R: The positive rate

v: The volume (ml) of dilution to grow in each plate

Chemical analysis

The chemical composition of feed offer and refusals were determined by AOAC (1990). Dry matter (DM) was measured by drying the fresh samples at 105 oC until dry. Crude protein was determined by the Kjeldahl method. The ether extract (EE) was determined by Soxhlet extraction. Total ash was the residue after ashing the samples at 550oC and organic matter (OM) was calculated by difference.

Statistical analysis

The data were analysed using the General Linear Model (GLM) of Minitab Statistical Software Version 16.0. Tukey’s pair – wise comparisons were used to determine the differences between treatment means at P<0.05. The statistical model used is as follows:

Yij = µ + αi + βj + eij

Where: Yij is growth performance or faecal score; µ is overall mean averaged over all treatments and all possible blocks; αi is effect of treatment i; βj is effect of block j; eij is random error associated with assigned to treatment i in block j.


Average daily feed intake of the experimental piglets was not significant different in Cont (605.1 g/day) to compared with GAD (602.6 g/day) and GUD (610.7 g/day). The ADG was highest in piglets fed GAD (349.3 g/day), and lowest in Cont (331.4 g/day). And also the FCR overall 5 weeks were improved in GAD (1.72kg feed/kg gain) and GUD (1.78kg feed/kg gain) compared with Cont (1.84kg feed/kg gain) (Table 3).

Table 3. Effect of adding garlic and guava leaf powders in the diets on growth performance of the experimental piglets







Initial weight, kg






Final weight, kg
























Cont: Basal diet without any supplementation; GAD: Basal diet + 2g garlic powder/kg feed; GUD: Basal diet+2g guava leaf powder/kg feed. a,b,c Means within a row with different superscripts are significantly different (P<0.05)

None of piglets had a diarrhea score of 3 (watery faeces) overall 5 weeks of the experiment. However, some piglets in all the treatment groups showed symptoms of diarrhoea (Table 4). In the period 2, the incidence of diarrhoea as well as the faecal score reduced compared with the first period. Overall five weeks, the piglets fed Cont diet (11.9% and 0.141) had higher diarrhoea incidence and faecal score than piglets fed the GAD (7.43% and 0.102) and GUD (6.92% and 0.101) diets, respectively. Quanlity ofE.coli in feces were also lowest in GAD (3.21x 105CFUE.coli/g fecse), and followed by GUD (3.54x 105CFU E.coli/g fecse) compared with that in Cont (4.10x 105 CFU E.coli/g fecse).

Figure 1. Effect of adding garlic and guava leaf powders
in the diets on diarrhoea incidence

Table 4. Effect of adding garlic and guava leaf powders in the diets on diarrhoea incidence, faecal score and E.coli in fecse of weaned piglets







Week 1-2 (period 1)

Incidence, %






Faecal score






Week 3-5 (period 2)

Incidence, %






Faecal score






Overall (5 weeks)

Incidence, %






Faecal score






Quantity of E.coli (105CFU/g feces)






Cont: Basal diet without any supplementation; GAD: Basal diet + 2g garlic powder/kg feed; GUD: Basal diet+2g guava leaf powder/kg feed. a,b,c Means within a row with different superscripts are significantly different (P<0.05)


Herbs added to the diets of pigs may improve production efficiency due to their biologically active components, the selected herbs have a positive effect on productive performance, immunity and health of animals, because of the stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting pathogenic micro-organisms (Daniel and Anna 2022). Also the additives from the plants influence taste of the feed inducing a higher or lower feed intake of the animals which also directly influences the ADG and FCR (Collins et al 2017; Caicedo et al 2019). In the present research, garlic or guava leaf powders adding in the diets have not affected the ADFI of the experimental piglets, but have positive effect on ADG và FCR, these may be because the affect of plant biologically active components.

Garlic powder supplementation in the pig diets is not popular, but the results in terms of improving ADG and reducing E.coli in feces, limiting the emissions of E.coli bacteria excreted into the environment had been found in many researches (Men and Nghia 2016; Yun et al 2018; Ayrle et al 2019). It can be explained by the functional benefits of garlic are its antimicrobial activity, improving immune functions. In fact, research of Yan and Kim (2013) found dietary supplemented with fermented garlic powder can also increase the nutrient digestibility, decrease the faecal microbial concentration, improve ADG in weanling pigs. Also Wang et al (2011) reported that, feeding garlic in the diets may help to maintain health status and growth performance because garlic plays an essential role as an antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agent in piglets, and immune stimulatory effects. These results can be explained by present of Allicin as an active functional component in garlic, which is one of the major organosulfur compounds considered to be biologically active (Mohammad Shafiur Rahman 2007). Therefore, garlic powder contributes to limiting the use of antimicrobials to strictly therapeutic indications. In the pig farm, postweaning diarrhoea is one of the most serious problems in pig production, leading to a high antimicrobial use, so garlic may be alternative replacement for using antibiotic and reduce antimicrobial medication by improving health and performance in postweaning pigs (Ayrle et al 2019).

The use of guava leaves powder supplement for animal feed is scarce, especially in pigs. However, many researchers have found the improving ADG and reducing E.coli in feces of piglets because the guava leaves are a rich source of proteins, carbohydrates, and dietary fibers (Dakappa et al 2013; Díaz-de-Cerio et al 2017; Naseer et al 2018). Also it may be due to guava leaves have various bioactive compounds that help to significantly reduce bacterial and parasitic infections piglets (Caicedo et al 2021). Jassal and Kaushal (2019) reported the chemical composition of guava leaf essential oils confirmed the presence of caryophyllene around 24.97 %, this major compound can produce colonization factors and enterotoxins that adhere to the intestinal mucosa of piglets, and this action inhibits the bacterial and parasitic infections. In addition, guava leaf extract is reported to contain phenolics, triterpenoids, and other compounds that have antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory activities (Maysarah et al 2016; Diaz-de-Cerio et al , 2016). Wang et al (2020) also reported the effect of guava leaf extract on piglets intestinal immune function, perturbs hydro-electrolytic secretions in the intestine, and results in the occurrence of diarrhea.

Moreover, weaning piglets often suffer from post-weaning diarrhea. In fact, Patil et al (2020) showed the appearance of post-weaning diarrhea of piglets are vulnerable to nutritional, physiological and psychological stressors, and this leads to an microbial intestinal imbalance caused by an increase in bacteria of the enterobacteriaceae family, involving the vast majority of coliform bacteria. In the pathogenesis of these diseases enteropathogenic E.coli strains play a major role. In this trial, the diarrhea rates and E.coli in feces of garlic and guava leaf powders inclusion diets reduced compared to control piglets, suggesting that garlic and guava leaf powders could be an alternative for antibiotics for prevention of postweaning infections with E.coli (Ayrle et al 2019); Caicedo et a .2021). Because garlic and guava leaf powders is more beneficial in increasing overall gut health and increased the population of beneficial bacteria as well as increasing phosphorus retention in the pig.



This research is funded by Can Tho University. Sincere gratitude goes to pig farm in An Giang Province for carrying out the experiment. And also many thanks to Tran Van Thach and Nguyen Van Hieu for their support in collecting data and samplings.


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