The use of sub-therapeutic levels of antimicrobial agents in feed is an effective strategy for maintaining the gastrointestinal tract conditions and to improve the performance of weanling pigs. However, their use as feed additive has been restricted due to the possibility of development of bacterial cross-resistance. The purpose of this research is to study the potential of beta-acids of hops (Humulus lupulus) as replacement for antimicrobial growth promoters in weanling pig diets. The effects of beta-acids in weanling pig diets will be evaluated by an acceptability assay and an experiment to evaluate animal performance, nutrients digestibility, diarrhea frequency, intestinal epithelium structure (villus height, crypt depth, lamina propria thickness, muscular tunic thickness and number of goblet cells), oxidative metabolism of the intestine and meat (lipid oxidation and physical-chemical analysis of meat), organ morphometry (digestive organs and spleen) and intestinal microbiota, compared to an usual antimicrobial growth promoter, and a "minimum inhibitory concentration" assay of beta-acids of hops. The results of this study may provide important information on the potential use of beta-acids as a substitute of antimicrobial growth promoters in weanling pig diets.
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