A splash of olive oil, a glass of red wine for broilers

Animal Nutrition Views

Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D., gives his views on poultry, pig and dairy nutrition based on his experience as a nutrition consultant with clients around the world.

A splash of olive oil, a glass of red wine for broilers

What does a Mediterranean style of diet have to do with broiler nutrition?

The Mayo Clinic recommends a Mediterranean diet as a healthy way of life for humans, mentioning especially the contribution of olive oil and red wine. We normally associate such a diet with reduced risk for heart attack and cancer, and longevity in general. But few know how this is affected in humans, especially since even scientists are yet uncertain. What most authorities believe, though, is that a high intake of antioxidants — and here comes olive oil and red wine — is at least partially responsible for the many benefits of a diet as enjoyed by humans living in countries around the Mediterranean sea.

I want us to consider existing and future technologies that can bring antioxidants from the olive tree and the grape vine into the daily diet of broilers.

Back to our animal nutrition industry now, one cannot but consider how such a notion as a Mediterranean diet can be applied in broiler feeding. An intriguing proposition, indeed, as these animals have the shortest lifespan until market age. Despite the lack of an understandable interest in prolonging their short life, we can focus instead on the immense burden on broilers’ metabolism caused by their super-rapid growth potential. And we all know a rapid metabolism only contributes to oxidative stress. After all, free radicals are what metabolism normally produces, and it is thus only reasonable to assume an elevated rate of metabolism will also produce an increased number of oxidative elements. Lamentably, the production of natural antioxidants by the organism is rarely ever enough, and this is what causes humans to age (as many now speculate) and birds to get sick or fall behind in growth.

This is not the first time I have mentioned the need to re-evaluate our position on antioxidant nutrition. This time, however, I repeat myself through new thinking as I want us to consider existing and future technologies that can bring antioxidants from the olive tree and the grape vine into the daily diet of broilers. Indeed, I have seen some preliminary results, and I can assure you they are more than interesting. Stay tuned for more information in the coming months and, in the meantime, please consider that an olive tree can live for at least a couple thousands of years!