This study was performed to evaluate the effects of a functional oil blend (castor oil plus cashew nutshell oil) on complete blood count, health parameters, and intestinal structure in nursery pigs. A total of 128 crossbreed piglets (6.79 ± 1.76 kg of body weight) were allocated in a randomized complete block design with two dietary treatments: a functional oil-free diet or a diet based on added functional oil (1500 mg functional oil blend/kg of diet). Both diets had 400–500 mg colistin sulphate/kg. Pigs fed functional oil had higher erythrocytes and monocytes on days 11 and 23, respectively. Lymphocyte concentration was reduced, and ileum pH was increased in pigs fed functional oil on day 23. On day 37, lower jejunal pH was observed. However, no treatment effect on diarrhoea occurrence was observed. The lactic acid bacteria count was greater in jejunum and ileum of pigs fed functional oil on day 23. Pigs fed functional oil had more jejunal lesions on day 37. Based on the criteria of this study, dietary supplementation to piglets with functional oil blend changed the concentration of erythrocytes and monocytes as an important role in the defence of the organism; however, it showed a reduced capacity to modify the pH in small intestinal contents, which was reflected in an absence in the incidence of diarrhoea. In addition, piglets fed the functional oil blend had improvements in lactic acid bacterial counts, without the ability to attenuate lesions in the jejunum.
"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher