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Trial demonstrates how oregano essential oil benefits pullet rearing

Feeding oregano essential oil (OEO) to pullets during rearing can help to improve flock uniformity, reproductive fitness and feed efficiency, according to research undertaken at North Carolina State University in the USA.

5 May 2020, at 2:10pm

Rearing healthy, high quality pullets with a diverse and well-populated gut microbiome is important for lifetime performance. The complex gut microbiome of poultry species plays a crucial role in digestion, nutrient absorption and immune function. Early establishment of a diverse microbiome population assists with intestinal crypt and villi development, two important intestinal structures associated with feed digestion and nutrient absorption.

a small brown bottle of oil with oregano leaves around it

North Carolina State University researcher, Dr Ken Anderson, undertook a trial at the Piedmont Research Station determine the effect of supplementing a source of 100 percent natural oregano essential oil in pullet feed throughout rearing on pullet performance and body confirmation.

Dekalb White chicks from day-old were allocated to one of two groups; either a control group with no additive in the feed, or a treatment group offered feed supplemented with 300g of oregano essential oil per tonne of feed.

“The results of the trial showed that OEO supplementation had a positive effect on pullet reproductive fitness, specifically in body development with increased shank length and a higher rear quarter percentage”, explained Dr Anderson. “Additionally, whilst body weight did not differ between treatment groups as birds were grown to breed guidelines, flock body weight uniformity was less variable in pullets supplemented with OEO”, he added. The trial also demonstrated optimised feed efficiency in pullets offered OEO in the diet, resulting in an improved FCR.

Improved flock uniformity and reproductive fitness at the start of lay in pullets fed essential oregano oil is expected to result in more consistent egg sizes and improved lifetime performance.

High quality pullets are those which are both robust and resilient, and a high quality flock is one in which all the pullets are uniform in weight and achieve breed targets for body weight. Meeting breed standards for body weight supports optimum skeletal and muscular development which is associated with improved performance during early lay. Issues which arise during the rearing phase can impact a birds’ overall lifetime performance and ultimately producer profitability,”