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      The effect of herbs and their associated essential oils on performance, dietary digestibility and gut microflora in chickens from 7 to 28 days of age.

      1 , , ,
      British poultry science
      Informa UK Limited

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          1. The effect of the dietary inclusion of 5 culinary herbs or their essential oils on the growth, digestibility and intestinal microflora status in female broiler chicks was assessed. From 7 to 28 d of age, either a basal control diet without supplement was given or one of 10 others, consisting of the basal diet with either 10 g/kg herb (thyme, oregano, marjoram, rosemary or yarrow) or 1 g/kg of essential oil. 2. Body mass (BM) and feed consumption (AFC) were measured on a weekly basis and used to calculate chick performance. Total viable counts of lactic acid bacteria, coliforms, anaerobes and Clostridium perfringens were determined at 25 d. Apparent nutrient digestibilities were calculated from the measured values for gross energy, nitrogen (N), dry matter (DM) and organic matter, and sialic acid concentration was also measured. 3. Generally, dietary thyme oil or yarrow herb inclusion had the most positive effects on chick performance, while oregano herb and yarrow oil were the poorest supplements. Only thyme and yarrow in these diets had a different effect when used as a herb or oil on weight gain and BM. 4. Dietary treatment had no effect on the intestinal microflora populations, apparent metabolisable energy (AME) or the calculated coefficients of digestibility. Sialic acid concentration was greatest in the birds given dietary thyme oil, compared with all other treatments except those birds receiving marjoram oil, rosemary herb and the controls. However, less sialic acid was excreted in those birds given diets with oregano or rosemary oils, or oregano herb, than in the controls. 5. Plant extracts in diets may therefore affect chick performance, gut health and endogenous secretions, although the chemical composition of the extract appears to be important in obtaining the optimal effects.

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          Author and article information

          Br Poult Sci
          British poultry science
          Informa UK Limited
          Aug 2007
          : 48
          : 4
          [1 ] Avian Sciences Research Centre, SAC, Edinburgh.


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