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J Anim Sci. 2008 Apr;86(14 Suppl):E140-8. Epub 2007 Dec 11.

Use of phytogenic products as feed additives for swine and poultry.

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  • 1Department of Food Science and Technology, Division of Animal Food and Nutrition, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna 1180 Vienna, Austria.


This article summarizes the experimental knowledge on efficacy, possible modes of action, and aspects of application of phytogenic products as feed additives for swine and poultry. Phytogenic feed additives comprise a wide variety of herbs, spices, and products derived thereof, and are mainly essential oils. The assumption that phytogenic compounds might improve the palatability of feed has not yet been confirmed by choice-feeding studies. Although numerous studies have demonstrated antioxidative and antimicrobial efficacy in vitro, respective experimental in vivo evidence is still quite limited. The same applies to the supposition that phytogenic compounds may specifically enhance activities of digestive enzymes and nutrient absorption. Nevertheless, a limited number of experimental comparisons of phytogenic feed additives with antibiotics and organic acids have suggested similar effects on the gut, such as reduced bacterial colony counts, fewer fermentation products (including ammonia and biogenic amines), less activity of the gut-associated lymphatic system, and a greater prececal nutrient digestion, probably reflecting an overall improved gut equilibrium. In addition, some phytogenic compounds seem to promote intestinal mucus production. Such effects may explain a considerable number of practical studies with swine and poultry reporting improved production performance after providing phytogenic feed additives. In total, available evidence indicates that phytogenic feed additives may add to the set of nonantibiotic growth promoters for use in livestock, such as organic acids and probiotics. However, a systematic approach toward the efficacy and safety of phytogenic compounds used as feed additives for swine and poultry is still missing.

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