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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.[1] Phytogenic feed additives, known as PFAs or botanicals, are substances of plant origin added to animal diets at recommended levels with the aim of improving animal performance.[2]

Benefits of phytogenics[edit]

The potential of phytogenic feed additives to promote zootechnical performance in young piglets and poultry has been clearly demonstrated. In this context, the raise in feed intake observed in piglets seems to arise mainly indirectly from growth promoting efficacy and improved digestive capacity rather than from specific improvement in dietary palatability.[3]

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[edit]

Effect on growth rates[edit]

Compounds such as caraway oil, lemon oil, and dried herbs and spices, may improve the growth rate of certain animals.[4] Phytogenic feed additives can substitute for antibiotic growth promoters in poultry diets.[5]

Effect on ammonia emissions[edit]

Certain compounds, such as saponins, have shown potential to reduce ammonia emissions of animals by inhibiting urease activity that converts urea in ammonia and carbon dioxide.[6]

Anti-inflammatory effects[edit]

It is assumed that the main mode of action of antibiotic-growth promoters (AGPs) is attributed to their anti-inflammatory properties, hence alternatives with similar effects on the inflammatory system are necessary.[7]

Reasons for use[edit]

In 2017 and 2018, Biomin surveyed agribusiness professionals within the framework of the Phytogenic Feed Additives Survey. In the 2018 edition, 758 respondents indicated their reasons for applying phytogenic feed additives to farm animal diets.[8][9]

The reasons for phytogenic feed additive application included[10]:

  • their antimicrobial effect
  • digestibility enhancement
  • growth promotion
  • their role in an AGP replacement strategy
  • improvement in FCR
  • higher feed intake
  • environmental emissions reduction
  • meat quality/carcass improvements
  • used in combination with AGPs
  • good past experience, and
  • nutrient sparing


  1. ^ "Phytogenics". Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "What is a Phytogenic Feed Additive". Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  3. ^ Windisch W, Rohrer E, Schedle K (2009). Phytogenics in Animal Nutrition: Natural Concepts to Optimize Gut Health and Performance. ISBN 978-1-904761-71-6. 
  4. ^ "Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 131/2012", 16.2.2012, Official Journal of the European Union [EN], L 43/15-16
  5. ^ "Phytogenic Feed Additives as an Alternative to Antibiotic Growth Promoters in Broiler Chickens". Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  6. ^ Zentner, E. "Effects of Phytogenic Feed Additives containing Quillaja Saponaria on Ammonia in Fattening Pigs", 3.7.2011, XVth International Congress on Animal Hygiene 2011
  7. ^ Niewold TA (1 April 2007). "The Nonantibiotic Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Antimicrobial Growth Promoters, the Real Mode of Action? A Hypothesis". Poultry Science. 86 (4): 605–609. PMID 17369528. 
  8. ^ "Phytogenics: Mainly used for their antimicrobial effects". Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  9. ^ "Science & Solutions Special Issue: PFA Survey 2018". Retrieved 17 July 2018. 
  10. ^ "2018 Biomin Phytogenic Feed Additives Survey". Retrieved 17 July 2018. 

External links[edit]