Emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria has created the necessity of replacement of antibiotic with other products like prebiotics, probiotics, organic acid botanicals, and herbal essential oils.
Essential oils (EOs) are important aromatic components of herbs and spices, and are used as natural alternatives for replacing antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) in poultry feed as these have antimicrobial, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antiviral properties. Beside, other beneficial effects of EOs include appetite stimulation, improvement of enzyme secretion related to food digestion, and immune response activation. Recently, use of EOs in broiler chickens has drawn attentions. EOs are generally used as blend with a carrier oil or combination with other plant oils in the feed to enhance the productive performance of birds.
The EOs are mixture of fragrant and volatile compounds, which are usually originated from plant, and are named with the aromatic characteristics considering the origin of plant (Oyen and Dung, 1999). The term ‘essential’ was proposed by Paracelsus in his theory of ‘quinta essentia’, and described that this quintessence could be an effective element for medical use (Oyen and Dung, 1999). But, the term ‘volatile oil’ had been proposed in medieval pharmacy (Hay and Waterman, 1993). The use of EOs in enhancing productivity may give promising effects as growth and health promoter. The chemical composition and con-centration of EOs are variable.
Essential oils have gained attention in recent years for their potential benefits in poultry nutrition. While more research is needed to fully understand their effects and optimal usage, some studies suggest that certain essential oils may have positive effects on poultry health and performance. Here are some ways essential oils are used in poultry nutrition:
Antimicrobial properties: Essential oils such as oregano, thyme, and cinnamon have been shown to possess antimicrobial properties, which may help reduce the risk of bacterial and fungal infections in poultry. These oils can be used as natural alternatives to synthetic antimicrobials, which can be beneficial for improving gut health in poultry.
Digestive health: Certain essential oils, such as thyme, oregano, and peppermint, may help improve digestion and nutrient absorption in poultry. They can stimulate the production of digestive enzymes, enhance bile secretion, and support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This can lead to better gut health and nutrient utilization, potentially improving overall performance and feed efficiency.
Immune system support: Some essential oils, such as eucalyptus and tea tree oil, have immune-stimulating properties. Including these oils in poultry diets may help boost the birds’ immune system, making them more resistant to diseases and improving overall health.
Antioxidant activity: Certain essential oils, such as rosemary and thyme, contain antioxidants that can help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. By reducing oxidative stress, these oils may contribute to better immune function and overall well-being in poultry.
Stress reduction: Lavender and chamomile essential oils are known for their calming properties. Including these oils in poultry diets or using them in the poultry house environment may help reduce stress levels, especially during transportation, handling, or other potentially stressful situations. Lower stress levels can positively impact poultry health and productivity.
It’s important to note that the effectiveness of essential oils can vary depending on factors such as the type of oil, dosage, and the specific needs of the poultry. Additionally, essential oils should be used judiciously and in accordance with established guidelines, as excessive use may have negative effects. Consulting with a poultry nutritionist or veterinarian is recommended to determine the appropriate inclusion levels and combinations of essential oils in poultry diets.
- Use of essential oils in poultry nutrition: A new approach, Gopal Krishan* and Asmita Narang, J. Adv. Vet. Anim. Res., 1(4): 156-162.Available at- http://bdvets.org/JAVAR Cabuk M, Bozkurt M, Alcicek A,
- 2. Catli AU, Baser KHC (2006b). Effect of adietary essential oil mixture on performance of laying hens in the summer season. South African Journal of Animal Science, 36: 215.
- 10 benefits of essential oils for poultry, Lisa Kirschner March 25, 2016, https://www.feedstrategy.com/animal-nutrition/poultry/article/15438491/10-benefits-of-essential-oils-for-poultry