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Phytogenics: Telling the Story of Performance

22 February 2013


Now that we have come to understand their mode of action, phytogenic feed additives are now being reassessed for broilers, according to Dr Ahmed Aufy, Technical Manager, Competence Center Phytogenics, for Biomin.

It is no longer the story of antibiotics since phytogenic feed additives (PFAs) have proven themselves to be superior alternatives to the antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) used in animal feed. However, it took far too long for producers to be practically convinced that PFAs can replace AGPs.

PFAs have been exposed to different challenges and each time, they showed a clear effect in improving growth performance as well as maintaining animal health. It is no exaggeration when we describe PFAs as coming to the rescue of animal producers after AGPs were banned, where PFAs have offered relief from different challenges after the AGP ban.

Instead of merely looking for a feed additive, producers have raised their expectations by looking for a solution(s). In the light of this, PFAs are required to improve performance by enhancing daily weight gain, improving feed conversion ratio and increasing livability. Furthermore, meat quality is a crucial factor that can influence production efficiency.

In reality, it is quite hard to offer PFAs as a package of solutions. But with increased knowledge about PFAs and their mode of actions, we are able to place the pullet right on target. In a recent experiment, a phytogenic feed additive (based on oregano, anise and citrus peel oil) was tested for its efficacy in improving growth performance as well as meat quality in broilers under highly optimised conditions.

In this trial, it was observed that the control group performed outstandingly, exceeding far above standards. Interestingly the PFA-fed group showed about 70g higher body weight than the control group in addition to a two-point improvement in FCR. The problem of the high performing breeds is that they have an incredible metabolic rate which enables birds to achieve very high growth rates in short periods.

High metabolic rates always result in metabolic disorders like ascites and sudden death syndrome which gives rise to high mortality rates. Due to their fast growth, it was expected that birds will show high mortality rates (7.6 per cent in the control group). Not surprisingly, this high mortality was lowered by 50% in the PFA group which confirms their cardio-tonic effect. In addition, data on meat quality revealed that PFAs also improve muscle tenderness, juiciness and overall acceptance.

Now for the question that has never been answered: Do we really understand the term 'optimal production'? Traditional feeding programs did not allow such brilliant ideas to flourish, thereby limiting production expectations. With this new way of thinking, PFAs which have been used for thousands of years are finally put back on the track now that we have come to understand their mode of action.

February 2013

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