The role of phytogenics in the restriction of the use of antibiotic growth promoters
The global animal industry is increasing regulatory restrictions on the use of antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) in animal production, and although the legislative ban of AGP is not immediatly affecting the whole animal industry, large food companies have already announced to promote antibiotic-free meats for consumers. For this reason, agricultural scientists are focusing researches on effective alternative strategies, among them phytogenics. Monoterpenes (such as thymol) and aldehydes (like vanillin) are some of the most studied phytogenics in poultry nutrition because of their multiple positive effects.
Why intestinal health should be our main target to achieve better performance?
Pathologies that mostly affect animal production in terms of economic losses are related to the intestinal inflammatory status. During necrotic enteritis in poultry, for example, there is an extensive disorder of the structure of the intestinal mucosa that involves a fierce cycle of inflammatory mediators. Whenever is affected intestinal health, growth performance is affected too. In fact, there is evidence that growth promotion is triggered by a healthy status of the intestine and dietary consumption of phytogenics appears to be a promising tool to allow better intestinal health and host wellbeing.
The multiple mode of action of phytogenics on gut health
The effect on growth performance showed by phytogenics was initially related to their anti-microbial power. Many of these constituents have been proposed to act on the bacterial membrane by forming pores that disturb the lipidic structure and therefore affect the membrane potential and the overall permeability of the bacterial cells. The beneficial effects of phytogenics on intestinal health is not only confined to the antimicrobial effect, but could be extended to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory potential at the gastrointestinal level. In these terms, phytogenics are considered to improve gut function, exerting not only a therapeutic effect, but also prevention. Last but not the least, there is a growing evidence that phytogenics play also a role in the chemosensory system by the activation of receptors expressed thorough the whole digestive tract playing several roles for example in taste, chemosensation, mechanosensation, and control of motility by neurons.
Which are the differences among essential oils-based additives?
Phytogenics comprise a wide range of substances that derive from herbs or spices and are generally referred to as essential oils (EO). The content of active substances within a certain essential oil may vary widely because it is related to the part of the plant used, the geographical origin, and also the harvesting season. Moreover, some isolates could have a small amount of impurities associated with them. For these reasons, pure phytogenics, also called nature identical compounds (NIC), are used in animal nutrition. NIC are chemically defined substances that constitute a plant EO, so they are produced synthetically but are chemically identical to their natural counterparts. As the percentage of biochemical actives in a given EO may vary substantially, along with the level of impurities, the inclusion of a single herb or its extracted EO in the feed may not always have comparable effects on animal performance whereas the use of NIC can avoid this variability.
Microencapsulation of botanicals to prevent absoprtion in the stomach and upper intestine
The efficacy of essential oil components is limited by the rapid absorption or degradation within the stomach and the small intestine and therefore adequate protection from digestion is necessary. It was with this concept in mind that Vetagro, an italian company leader in microencapsulation since 1982, developed two microencapsulated non-antibiotic zootechnical feed additives, AviPlus®P for poultry and AviPlus®S for swine, that are based on the synergistic effect of a blend of NIC and organic acids. Microencapsulation technology helps in preventing degradation in the proximal gut and delivers the bioactive compounds along the intestinal tract. Moreover, this protection technology allows to minimize the amount of bioactive compounds in the formula by maximizing efficacy. The modulation of the local and systemic inflammatory response and the improvement of the intestinal barrier integrity was verified both in vitro and in vivo studies, ultimately resulting in improved growth performance, as published in Grilli et al. (2015, BMC Vet Res 11:96). These additives have been developed through extensive studies conducted worldwide and the use of AviPlus®P in broilers and AviPlus®S in the swine consistently resulted in improved growth rate and feed efficiency with or without AGP, with significant economical savings for producers.
Vetagro will be at 2017 IPPE, Atlanta, GA. USA
For more information on phytogenics, come and visit us at the Tech Talk Theatre C1305 on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 1:00 pm, where we will have the opportunity to discuss more about phytogenics compounds and their positive effect on intestinal health.