Optimal performance of the intestinal tract in today’s highly performing chicken is the main concern in animal production. Keeping the gut healthy reduces the amount of prophylactic and curative antibiotics needed, which is also important from a social and sustainability point of view.
Whilst scientists discuss about what exactly the definition of a healthy gut is, it remains essential for poultry producers, supported by their feed suppliers, to perform at an economically viable level. Supporting animal performance is a multidisciplinary farm approach. Good farm and animal management is essential, as well as well-balanced feed quality.
The number of regions that ban AGP’s is continuously expanding. This leaves the poultry producers with many questions about future day-to-day practice. Therefore, they must be able to rely on proven and highly effective alternative approaches without giving in on performance. This is the core business of the feed additive industry. In the search for alternatives for antibiotic growth promoters (AGP’s) Aveve Biochem developed a selected phytogenic blend for optimal animal health and performance support. AveMix Essence was developed, tested and validated in practice to minimise the negative physiological effects caused by different kinds of stress.
Exploring the benefits of phytogenic compounds
Oregano and thyme oils have been popular medicinal plants since ancient times. Both plants are known for their anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and digestion enhancing properties. The effect is mainly due to their bioactive component carvacrol and thymol. These phytogenics compounds can help the bird to face the main challenges of intensive modern animal production such as nutrient oversupply, bacterial disbalance, inflammation and poor absorption.
AveMix Essence is a selected phytogenic mixture, standardised on carvacrol and thymol as major components. Due to their high pKa value the phytogenics are active at high intestinal pH. The fat matrix, in which the aromatic compounds are comprised, assures slow release and stability of the bioactive compounds of the product throughout the intestinal tract.
Several tests and literature have shown that broad spectrum microbial regulation can be achieved with this formulation. Thymol and carvacrol are active against Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., Campylobacter jejuni amongst others. An ex-vivo experiment by Kollanoor et al, 2010 showed a 2-log reduction within 15 seconds after inoculation of Salmonella with only 50mM thymol and 75mM carvacrol.
In the same experiment Campylobacter was reduced by log2 within 15 seconds after introduction of 10 mM thymol and 20 mM carvacrol. Equally important is that on the other hand thymol and carvacrol spare the non-pathogenic flora meaning they are less specific towards Lactobacillus spp. and Bifidobacterium spp.
Securing a healthy gut
The plant extract compounds positively influence nutrients digestion and absorption and have an anti-oxidative function limiting the amount of energy the chick loses for maintenance of gut epithelium, regarded as an important consumer of energy. This is shown in one of many trials with AveMix Essence with broilers (see Table 1).
In this experiment Ross 308 broilers chickens fed a diet supplemented with 100 grams/ton of the product gained 2869 grams of body weight during the total trial period of 42 days. This represents about 2% increase compared to the negative control diets without supplementation. Birds fed the experimental diets are characterised by a 2% lower feed intake. Overall the Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) was significantly positive affected (p>0.05) by the dietary treatment. It was reduced from 1.66 to 1.59 (-4%) for phytogenic supplemented diet. The performance results from the presented trial are in line with the average gains from using the product.