Phytogenics are a group of natural growth promoters (NGPs) or non-antibiotic growth promoters used as feed additives, derived from herbs, spices or other plants. They are commonly regarded as favorable alternatives to antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) in livestock production. Essential oils represent a concentrated form of phytogenics, containing mainly the active ingredients of the plants.
Benefits of phytogenics
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The potential benefits of using phytogenics in livestock nutrition are:
- increased feed intake
- stimulation of digestion
- increased growth performance
- reduced incidence of diarrhea
- increased performance parameters
- improved reproductive parameters
- improved feed efficiency
- higher profitability
Modes of action
Effect on feed intake
Due to their aromatic ingredients, phytogenics add flavor to feed, thereby increasing feed palatability. Particularly in pigs, the attractive taste potentially results in higher feed intakes. High feed intakes are a prerequisite for adequate development of piglets as well as for high reproductive performance in sows.
Effect on gut microflora
A well-balanced gut microflora is necessary to protect the gut from pathogenic invasion. Phytogenic compounds have shown antimicrobial, antioxidative, antiviral or sedative properties. Thus, inclusion of phytogenics results in a decimation of the gut microflora. At the best, a beneficial combination of different phytogenic compounds reduces the number of pathogenic bacteria only, while positive gut bacteria such as Lactobacilli or Bifidobacteria are not affected.
Effect on secretion of saliva and digestive enzymes
Phytogenics are known to increase the secretion of saliva and gastric acid, thus having a positive impact on overall digestive processes. Especially in young piglets, the gastric acid production is inadequate, often causing diarrhea in the post-weaning period. Therefore, inclusion of phytogenics, which increases the rate of gastric acid secretion is beneficial in terms of counteracting digestive disorders in this critical stage of life.
Effect on growth rates
Effect on ammonia emissions
Phytogenics have been produced on a commercial scale since the 1980s. Global producers include Biomin, Delacon Biotechnik, Growell India, Pancosma, Nor-Feed Sud, Par Pharmaceutical, Biodevas Laboratoires, and Phytosynthèse.
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