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Herbs versus Drugs in Poultry

Herbs versus Drugs: Aspect World Poultry

Published on: 9/16/2009
Author/s : M.M. Hossain
Consumers are always thinking about the residual effect of antibiotics in poultry products. It is proved that antibiotics are not always good for poultry health even human health. Drugs can have residual effects. Due to this reason now antibiotics are not allowed (banned from animal feed) for treatment the sick birds in some of countries, like-Belgium. Now a day every poultry scientist is thinking, how poultry can run without using antibiotics and other drugs. So, they are giving more attention to the indigenous medicines.  Some herbs, spices and extracts can stimulate feed intake and endogenous secretions or may have antimicrobial, coccidiostatic or anthelmintic activities (Wenk, 2002). Many herbal compounds are already investigated. But we don't know the actual composition of herbs products, sometime it very from one place to another place. So, it should be standardized. Still more research is needed for the treatment and prevention of poultry diseases by using herbs.
Advantages of herbs
  1. Herbs can be applicable for organic farms.
  2. Antibiotics, coccidiostats and other drugs have residual effects but herbs have no residual effect but still more research is needed.
  3. Some plants and plant extracts have bactericidal and bacteriostatic aspects.
  4. Some herbs (like-garlic) only kill the pathogenic bacteria; don't kill the helpful bacteria (lactobacillus spp.).
  5. Some herbs have antiviral effects (aloe prevents fowl pox).
  6. Herbs can be used as antimicrobial, appetizer, immune and digestive agents.
  7. Maximum herbs have no toxicity in the body, even due to the higher concentration of herbs and species in animal body (but few are toxic).
  8. More than 60 genera of plants have been found to have inhibitory properties toward the growth of E.coli and/or Staphylococcus aureus. (Newman, 1998)
  9. Herbs are environment-friendly.
  10. It acts as feed supplements.
Some references against antibiotics
Continuous feeding of antibiotics to chickens in the same environment resulted in a decrease or even loss of growth response (Nelson et al., 1963). Supplementation of new antibiotics had no significant effect on growth, mortality or feed conversion ratio in broilers (Proudfoot et.al., 1990). Use of antibiotics in farm animals result in a dramatic increase in the deaths and illness associated with antibiotic resistance, (Newman, 2002). The extensive use of antibiotic growth promoters in poultry industry has resulted in rapid appearance of resistant forms of microorganisms less sensitive to antibiotics (Guo, 2003). The most important potential route by which humans become infected with resistant bacteria is via the food chain, of which meat is the most significant source although other animal products, such as milk and eggs may be involved (Hinton, 1988). Therefore, EU has banned the use of most antibiotic growth promoters in farm animals, including poultry and is strictly controlling their therapeutic use (European Commission/Scientific Steering Committee, 1999).
Magic of garlic
Garlic has more strong antimicrobial activies in the digestive tract than other herbas and spices. It doesn't kill the lactobaccilus bacteria, which is helpful for animal body. A raw garlic clove is damaged; alliin is converted to sulphenate, pyruvate and ammonia by allinase. Sulpahenate leads to allicin (also known as diallyl thiosulphenate), which has been identified as an antimicrobial compound.
Garlic derived compound on various micro-organisms-
Minimum inhibitory concentration (mg/ml)
Bacillus cereus
Staphylococcus aureus
Mycobacterium smegmatis
Streptococcus sp.
E. coli
Klebsiella pneumoniae
Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Candida albicans
Saaccharomyces cerevisiae
Source: Newman, 1998.
Impact of Garlic on growth of E.Coli and lactic bacteria
Herbs versus Drugs: Aspect World Poultry - Image 1
Antimicrobial activities of herbs and spices
Immuno-active polysaccharides derived from two mushrooms, Tremella fuciformis ( TreS ) and Lentinus edodes ( LenS ), and the herb Astragalus membranacea Radix ( AstS ), seem to be potential alternatives for antimicrobial growth and health promoters. These products were considered to play an important role in strengthening the animals' defense system by improving the physical conditions of gut ecosystem and enhancing functions of the immune system of chickens. (Guo, 2003)
Herbs products for poultry available in market
Products name & composition
Company name & address
Additional information
Liquid composition of organic acids and herbs to be nebulized in the stables.
Herbavita Bvba, Belgium.
- Stress-reducing.
- Antibacterial action.
Liquid composition of extracts of plants.
Herbavita Bvba, Belgium.
Target groups: Broilers, Layers
Stimulates the immunity system, emollient for the air passages, beneficial for the intestinal tract.
Composition of organic acids and extracts from herbs.
Herbavita Bvba, Belgium.
Target groups: Broilers, Layers
Promotes the appetite, stimulates the enzyme production, beneficial for a healthy digestion and feed conversion.
Herbal extracts
KELA nv, Belgium.
Target group:calf, pig, poultry
Herbal extracts
KELA nv, Belgium.
Target group:calf, pig, poultry
Liquid composition of extracts of plants.
Herbavita Bvba, Belgium.
Target groups: Broilers
Beneficial for the muscles, joints and the maintenance of strong bones, maintains the joints and muscles supple, beneficial to maintain strong bones.
Blend of phytobiotics from quantified essential oils extracts, plant extracts from Thyme, Origanum, Rosmary, Clove and Cynnamon.
Tav Veterinaria, Spain
Target group: swine poultry and calves.
- Growth promoter
- Prevents coccidial multiplication and reduces its damage effect on the intestinal wall.
Liquid composition of extracts of plants.
Herbavita Bvba, Belgium.
Target groups: Broilers
- Emollient for the airways
- Ensures efficient respiration.
is a poly herbal formulation capable of binding ammonia and increases the utilization of ammonia nitrogen in GI tract.
Indian Herbs, India
Ammo Free Premix supports and enhances the intestinal enzyme system, ammo free Premix increases the utilization of ammonia nitrogen in GI tract Ammo Free Premix binds ammonia and prevents its excess release in poultry shed.
Indian Herbs, India
Animunin is a herbal feed supplement which functions like a respiratory antiseptic and helps to maintain normal respiratory functions (Complicated Chronic Respiratory Disease).
Plant extracts and
additives: appetizing and aromatic substances (essential oils).
Mercordi Animal Care,
Avericox® can be used to combat coccidiosis as well as to optimise growth and production in poultry. The essential oils control the coccidial population.
  • Echinacea angustifolia
  • Echinacea purpurea
  • Vincetoxicum hirudinaria
Mercordi Animal Care,
Colinex® LA is an extremely powerful immune stimulator and can therefore be used succesfully to prevent E.Coli infections.
Source: Survey in Euro Tier-2008 (by author)
Performance of different herbs on E. coli growth
Herbs versus Drugs: Aspect World Poultry - Image 2
Treatment of birds with herbs and species:
Prevention: sodom apple, sisal plant, hot pepper+onion, aloe+pepper
Treatment: neem tree, aloe, aloe+pepper, banana leaves, mbegu rahisi
Fowl typhoid
Aloe, neem tree, sowthistle, cactus+aloe+asparagus, castor oilplant
Fowl pox
Sodom apple (fruit), cactus, onion+pepper+aloe (apply on surface), aloe+cactus+asparagus (apply on spots)
Hot pepper+onions, aloe, aloe+cactus+asparagus (in the eye), neem tree, aloe+pepper
Aloe, neem tree, aloe+pepper, fruit of sodom apple, hot pepper+onion, mbegu rahisi
Neem tree, aloe+pepper, sodom apple, hot pepper+onoons, lantana
Mbegu rahisi (smoking), lantana camara (sweeping+dusting), tobacco (dusting+smoking)
Aloe+pepper, sisal
Eucalyptus tree, onions
There are so many advantages of using herbs than drugs. Even drugs can't be used during laying period of chickens, due to residual effect in eggs. Now a day few herb products are available in market. Farmers can easily use in their layer, broiler and parent stock, without any residual effect. Even these herbs can be used during the laying period. Farmers also interested to use the herbs for their poultry. But products are not still familiar to the farmers.
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