With the phasing out of antibiotic growth promoters, poultry producers often encounter challenges related to gut health and feed efficiency. Among novel growth promoters (NGPs), phytogenic feed additives (PFAs) stand out for their ability to support both, given that they exert a range of distinct biological activities e.g. anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties.
Better gut performance
Control of Gram-positive bacteria such as Clostridium perfringens is critical for poultry production. Overgrowth of Clostridium strains cause dysbiosis (imbalance of microbiota) in the gastrointestinal tract; the leading cause of necrotic enteritis. Certain essential oils have been proven to effectively control Clostridium strains both in vitro and in vivo.
On average, the estimated economic cost per bird to producers due to necrotic enteritis ranges from USD$0.050 to $0.063 – up to three times higher than the investment in an advanced phytogenic feed additive of $0.019 per bird (Figure 1).
Figure 1. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
Better feed efficiency
With the help of emerging ‘-Omics’ technologies e.g. genomics, transcriptomics, etc. it has been shown that certain phytogenics play a major role in anti-inflammatory processes. This matters because prolonged subclinical inflammation in birds leads to reduced performance due to lower feed intake and the redirection of energy towards cellular defense mechanisms that would otherwise go towards production, i.e. muscle building or egg laying.
Selected PFAs (Digestarom®) have been shown to down regulate Nf-Kb target genes (IL-6, ICAM-1, MCP-1) reduce inflammation and thus improve feed conversion. They also promote Nr-f2 transactivation which stimulates the cell protection, anti-oxidative response.
Even modest feed conversion ratio (FCR) point improvements –stemming from dysbiosis control and reduced inflammation– translate into important feed cost savings for producers, as shown in Table 1.
Table 1. Feed cost savings grow with feed efficiency gains
*feed price (0.32USD/kg, final bird weight 2.5kg)