• Campylobacter;
  • diet;
  • Escherichia coli;
  • Lactobacillus;
  • nursery swine;
  • pathogens


Aims:  In the United States, carbadox and copper sulfate are growth promoters commonly used in combination in nursery swine diets. Our aim was to determine how selected dietary additives affect selected bacterial populations and pathogens in nursery swine, and compare to larch extract, which contains potential antibacterial activities.

Methods and Results:  Piglets were weaned and sorted into one of the four treatments: (i) basal diet without antimicrobials; (ii) basal diet with carbadox + copper sulfate; (iii) basal diet + 1000 ppm larch extract; or (iv) basal diet + 2000 ppm larch extract. Diets were fed for a 4-week period after weaning. In both trials, the carbadox + copper sulfate group consumed more feed over the 4-week period relative to the other three diet groups (P < 0·05), but did not gain significantly more weight. Faecal shedding of Salmonella spp. was not affected by dietary supplement in either trial, but faecal shedding of Campylobacter spp. was the lowest for the carbadox + copper sulfate diet. In faecal samples collected at the end of each trial, Lactobacillus spp. cell counts for the basal and larch extract diets were nearly 1·0 log10 g−1 faeces greater (P < 0·05) than the carbadox + copper sulfate group, whereas the coliforms and Escherichia coli were nearly 1·0 log10 g−1 faeces lower (P < 0·05).

Conclusions:  Compared to basal fed animals, supplementation with carbadox + copper sulfate significantly altered faecal E. coli, coliform bacteria and Lactobacillus spp. Larch extract has no benefit up to 0·2% of diet in regard to pathogen shedding, whereas carbadox + copper sulfate decreased faecal shedding of Campylobacter spp.

Significance and Impact of the Study:  Current swine management practices in the United States may be beneficial to managing Campylobacter spp. shedding in nursery swine, but also result in significant changes in the resident gastrointestinal microflora.