The economics of poultry industry depends upon the feed. Over a period of time, extensive efforts have been made to lower down the cost of production by lowering the feed cost. Feed additives have lately be found as important tools which can be used for improving feed conversion ratio, growth rate and disease resistance in animals, which is the main objective of the producer.
Research studies have shown that lots of herbal preparations help the birds to fight stress arising due to various reasons. Adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha, Tulsi, Amla, and Ginseng etc. are being used as anti-stress factors for long years in human and animal medicines with proven results. In recent times, some herbal preparations are also used as feed additives for enhancing growth, reducing feed cost by improving feed efficiency and building better immunity.
Importance of Herbs:
Since ancient times, plants and its parts have been an indispensable source of medicine for indigenous poultry production systems. Although modern medical science has developed to a great extent but local medical traditions are being lost because they are largely undocumented. Very little has been done to verify and validate gathered information.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa):
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae with medicinal properties known to possess antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Rhizome is the portion of medicinal importance and is usually boiled, cleaned, dried and powdered before usage. In medieval Europe, turmeric became known as Indian saffron, since it was widely used as an alternative to the far more expensive saffron spice.
Essential Oil ~5%
The active ingredients of turmeric are tetrahydro curcuminoids, curcumin, dimethoxy curcumin and bismethoxy curcumin.
The continuing research indicates that turmeric and its active compound “Curcumin” are unique antioxidants, antimutagenic, antitumorigenic, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antiarthritis, antimicrobial and hypocholesterolemic properties. Therapeutic properties of turmeric includes antioxidant, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiprotozoal, antiviral and hypocholesteremic activities.
Turmeric and curcumin have been shown to protect liver against a variety of toxicants including carbon tetrachloride, aflatoxin B and cyclophosphamide in mouse, rat and duckling. The curcuminoids (yellowish pigments) present in turmeric powder have shown protective effect against aflatoxin B. The traditional usage of turmeric in various conditions like biliary disorders, anorexia, cough, diabetes, wounds, hepatic disorders, rheumatism and sinusitis. Rhizome is also used as carminative, diuretic, hepato protective and in treatment of urinary tract and skin diseases like scabies, leech bites and bruises.
Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
Ocimum tenuiflorum, is an aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae, which is native throughout the old World tropics and widespread as a cultivated plant and an escaped weed. The two main morph types cultivated in India and Nepal are green-leaved (Sri or Lakshmi Tulsi) and purple-leaved (Krishna Tulsi).
Tulsi contains eugenol (1-hydroxy 2-methoxy 4 allyl benzene) a phenolic compound and ursolic acid having pharmacological effects. Some of the main chemical constituents of Tulsi are oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid, eugenol, carvacrol, linalool, β-caryo-phyllene, β-elemene (about 11.0%), β-caryophyllene (about 8%), and germacrene D (about 2%.
It is an effective treatment for reducing blood glucose levels and total cholesterol levels. Tulsi also shows some promise for protection from radiation poisoning and cataracts. The fixed oil has demonstrated antihyperlipidemic and cardio-protective effects in rats fed a high fat diet. An alcoholic extract of Tulsi modulates immunity, thus promoting immune system function. O. sanctum extracts are antibacterial against E. coli, S. aureus and P. aeruginosa.
Tulsi is a well known therapeutic agent for several pathological conditions possess antistress and antioxidant properties. The medicinal herb has been known to possess remarkable biological activities like antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, anti cancerous, anti oxidant, anti inflammatory, hepatoprotective and cardiopro-tective etc. Other therapeutic potential actions of tulsi includes antifungal, antispasmodic, antiemetic, analgesic, hypolipidemic and antiviral also. It could inhibit the lipid peroxidation.
Amla (Phyllanthus emblica)
Phyllanthus emblica (syn. Emblica officinalis), the Indian gooseberry, or aamla, is a deciduous tree of the Phyllanthaceae family and is known for its edible fruit.
Amla is one of the richest sources of Vit-C and contains 700mg. In addition to this several active tannoid principles (Emblicanin A, Emblicanin B, Punigluconin and pedunculagin) have been identified for their health benefits.
Medical studies suggest that Amla fruit has anti-viral properties and also functions as an antibacterial and antifungal agent. Animals fed on amla powder showed better ability for uptake and killing of bacteria, which might be due to the presence of tannins which stimulates phagocytic cells. Indian gooseberry has undergone preliminary research, demonstrating in vitro antiviral and antimicrobial properties. There is preliminary evidence in vitro that its extracts induce apoptosis and modify gene expression in osteoclasts involved in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.
Amla fruit powder as feed additive has been reported to possess antistress, adaptogenic, immunogenic and growth-stimulating properties resulting in better performance of broiler. More benefits can get on feeding Amla fruit powder as feed supplement in broiler as Amla possesses antistress and antioxidant property. Amla promotes growth, stimulate the immune system and improves feed conversion efficiency.
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)
The botanical name of aloe vera is Aloe barbadensis miller. It belongs to Asphodelaceae (Liliaceae) family, and is shrubby, or absorescent, perennial, xerophytic, succulent, pea-green color plant. The sticky latex liquid is derived from the yellowish green pericyclic tubules lining the leaf (rind) that yields laxative anthraqui-nones.
Dried aloe vera
Aloe vera contains phytochemicals like saponins (5.651g/100g), flavanoids (3.246g/100g), alkaloids (2.471g/100g) and phenols (0.232g/100g), which is an indicative of cosmetic and medicinal value of Aloe barbadensis. It is also rich in minerals like Na, K, P, and Mg.
Aloe vera may be effective in treatment of wounds and it also promotes the rate of wound healing. Topical application of aloe vera may also be effective for genital herpes and psoriasis. The extracts are useful in treatment of hyperglycemia, hyperlipemia, but also with acute hepatitis. Preliminary studies have suggested that oral aloe vera gel may reduce symptoms and inflammation in patients with ulcerative colitis. Aloe vera extracts have been used as immunostimulant that aids in fighting cancers in cats and dogs. Extracts of aloe vera might have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal activities. Aloe vera includes antrokinone chemicals that are known for anti-virus, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer properties.
Natural de-worming plants for backyard flock:
1. Garlic (Allium sativa): This can be given fresh and finely chopped or you can give dried flakes or powders. Whatever form one chooses, it has to be an equivalent amount of one to two cloves per hen per day for 10 days. While feeding garlic as a preventative measure, one has to ensure that it is available and mixed with the feed from time to time.
2. Grated carrot (Daucus carota)
3. Finely chopped onion (Allium cepa)
4. Elder leaves (Sambuca canadensis)
5. Pumpkin seeds (Cucurbita pepita): The animals enjoy all parts of squash and the seeds are a natural worm repellant.
6. Cucumbers (Cucurbita longa): The seeds are the most valuable for de-worming, but tossing a few cucumbers to your chickens here and there throughout the summer can be a delicious snack with added benefit.
Inclusion of herbal plant such as Amla, Aloe vera, Turmeric, Tulsi in poultry diet may improve the growth performance, body weight gain, feed efficiency, carcass traits, livability, immune response and disease resistant power. Preventative measures can be taken to keep chickens worm-free by feeding them with natural de-worming plants.
Dr. Bharti Deshmukh, Assistant professor, PAU
Dr. Suraj Amrutkar, Assistant professor, SKUAST-J
Dr. Suhas Amrutkar, Parbhani Veterinary College