Essential oils, minerals can support poultry pathogen control

The natural compounds can enhance bird intestinal health.

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Broilers Feeding Indoors
David Tadevosian I

Essential oils and minerals in feed could be an alternative to antibiotics when it comes to preventing Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, E. coli and other poultry pathogens.

Antibiotic use in poultry and other livestock is under scrutiny due to growing antibiotic resistance and consumer concerns. Resistance, when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them, can devastate poultry flocks and affect the livelihood of farmers. 

“Antibiotics will generally kill everything – whether it’s beneficial bacteria or pathogenic bacteria,”  Dr. Aldo Rossi, VP of innovation and technical services, Amlan International, explained.

Essential oils and minerals target only the pathogenic bacteria, which means that good bacteria like Lactobacillus have a chance to increase in the poultry gut without competition.

“We’ve actually seen improvement in the microbiome of the gut to a healthier balance,” Rossi added.

Pathogen prevention

Essential oils are naturally produced from plants with strong bacteriostatic properties. They have anti-bacterial properties and can also stimulate appetite and digestion, which can aid early growth and development. Examples of this include cinnamon, thyme, garlic and citronella. 

In addition, minerals physically bind pathogenic bacteria and support tight junction integrity, preventing pathogens from entering the poultry circulatory system and supporting bird health.

“It’s a great synergy between all these ingredients,” said Jay Hughes, technical service, Amlan International. “By having so many layers, a pathogen has to go through several gates before it can become resistant.”

The combination of the natural compounds can enhance poultry intestinal health and reduce the mortality in birds challenged with C. perfringens, the bacteria that causes necrotic enteritis.

In addition, combining the feeding of essential oils with vaccination has strengthened the effects of both treatments in research trials.

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