Phytobiotics in poultry feeding

Genetic advance aimed at accelerating the growth rate of broiler birds have reduced the natural resistance of poultry to infections. It also increased susceptibility to stress, which resulted in decline to the welfare and productivity of poultry. Additionally, intensive poultry production poses a risk of exposure of chickens to unfavorable zoo-hygienic conditions and contamination with pathogens from the external environment (bedding, water, feed, hen house staff, sick birds in the flock). Due to the potential production losses, measures are taken to improve the health and effectiveness of bird rearing, for example by using growth stimulants and improving the composition of the gastrointestinal microbiome and improving metabolism and the work of the immune system. The addition of phytobiotics to feed or drinking water supports digestion and metabolism in the body, stimulates the growth and development of a useful microbiota, limits the multiplication and adhesion of pathogens, and improves the structure and functioning of intestinal cells. Numerous observations in the animals facilitated the use of specific herbs in the treatment of a given disease, as well as eliminating the use of those species of plants that are potentially harmful or toxic. At present, the intensive development of analytical techniques allows the identification of a whole range of biologically active substances in plants, responsible for their beneficial effects. In poultry practice can use plant additives, in both fresh and dried, fermented or freeze-dried, as well as water or alcohol extracts made on their basis. The phytobiotics can be expected to regulate digestive processes, support the secretion of digestive enzymes and bile, increase appetite, improve the absorption of nutrients and act to support and detoxify the body. Plant supplements may, however, also act more specifically, i.e. inhibit the growth of pathogenic microorganisms, regulate the gastrointestinal microbiome, stimulate the immune, reproductive and endocrine systems, have antioxidant and antiallergic properties, accelerate wound healing, stimulate blood circulation, inhibit inflammation and promote epithelial regeneration intestines and intestinal villi, and even improve the quality of eggs or meat. The phytobiotics raw materials can be herbal extracts or parts of plants (leaves, rhizomes, roots, flowers or bark, bulbs, stems, as well as fruits and seeds), in which the accumulation of biologically active substances is highest. In addition, isolated pure bioactive substances are used, e.g. essential oils, dyes. Contradictory results from the use of plant additives may result from the natural variability of the composition of plant secondary metabolites, their diversity and environmental conditions for plant growth, harvest time, maturity, as well as the method and duration of conservation, storage or processing. In addition, the analytical method required to obtain the bioactive substances from plants, the method of extracting these substances from the plant are important; and possible synergism or antagonism in the case of mixtures of substances, or the presence of toxic and anti-nutritional components for a given animal species, and also microbiological contamination of plants product. Many researchers question results about anti-diarrheal, antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties of plants, especially because of the variations found in biological indicators in vivo studies. It is important to note that the positive effects will depend on the animal species, the productive category, environmental conditions, and characteristics of the plant material used. Dietary plant extracts strongly stimulate the endocrine system and indirect metabolism of nutrients. Many plant additives, including cinnamon, ginger, garlic, fenugreek, oregano, ribwort plantain, thyme, sage, marjoram, echinacea, lemon balm, cumin, peppermint, nettle, chamomile, sea buckthorn, milk thistle whether alfalfa, can stimulate metabolism and the absorption of nutrients, prevent inflammation of the digestive tract, has a tonic effect, prevent diarrhea, improve intestinal immunity and the composition of the microbiota.

PlantUsed part/materialBeneficial effect
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)bark, leaves/ cinnamon oilimproves appetite and digestion; enhances antioxidant status; antimicrobial and blood purifying actions; alleviate adverse effects of environmental stress; chemopreventive effect
(Allium sativum)
crushed bulbs  improves immunity by increasing the titer of antibodies, stimulating the activity of lysozyme and increases the phagocytic activity of macrophages; chemopreventive effect, actions antiseptic and alleviate adverse effect of stress; improves digestion and the blood lipid profile; improves growth and FCR
Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)leaves root/dried herb, water and alcohol extracts, root  immunomodulatory – stimulates phagocytic activity of macrophages, increases the activity of lysozyme, increases the titer of antibodies; antimicrobial, antitumor, antidiabetic, and antioxidant, digestion stimulant, improves growth and FCR
(Moringa oleifera)
leaves/extracts  improves egg production and decreases FCR; alleviates adverse effect of environmental stress, antioxidant activity
Pappermint (Mentha piperita)leaves/powder  enhances appetite and stimulates digestion; causes decrease in  FCR; it works as antiseptic; improvement in the laying performance, quality and freshness of eggs, and color or the chemical composition of yolk
Turmeric (Curcuma longa)rhizome/ powderimproves the blood lipid profile; improves digestion – choleretic, increases appetite; antioxidative; anticarcinogenic; antihepatotoxic and immunomodulatory – stimulates the production of interferon; chemopreventive effect
(Aloe barbadensis)
leaves/water extracts, powder, gel powderimmunomodulation – stimulates the activity of granulocytes and granulocytic enzymes (myeloperoxidase, peroxidase), increases the titer of antibodies; alleviate adverse effect of environmental stress;antidiabetic, and antioxidant – decreasing the lipid peroxidation and increasing the antioxidant status; stimulation of digestion – improve absorption of nutrients from the intestine, improves intestinal microflora; improves performance and FCR;  provide protection to the vital organs like liver and kidney
(Zingiber officinale)
roots/ extracted basic oil  improves body weight gain due to stimulation of digestive enzymes and improvement of overall digestion, inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestinal tract due to antimicrobial activity lead to assimilation of nutrients, improves carcass traits, decreases abdominal fat; immunomodulation – increases the activity of lysozyme; chemopreventive effect

Dr. Gunjan, PhD scholar

Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences