Natural plant extract in animal Feed: Thyme
The need to find new anti-infective agents and therapeutic strategies or preventive alternative to antibiotics is currently a major issue in pharmaceutical research. The use of essential oils, prebiotics, probiotics or antimicrobial peptides could play an increasing role in the management of antimicrobial resistance in veterinary medicine and reduce the impact on public health.
Essential oils can be beneficial as a feed additive to promote the gut health of chickens and help reduce the risk of bacterial infections. Because consumers are becoming more health conscious, desiring natural instead of artificial products, essential oils can be used as a natural additive in poultry feed.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) is a popular medicinal plant mostly grown in Mediterranean regions, thyme allowed to embalm the Egyptians and Etruscans dead. Besides, at this time, "thymus” meant "flavour.” A legend says that during the Trojan War, the tears of Helen led to the birth of this herb. Thyme is among the herbal plants which have received increased attention, the essential oil extracted from thyme Thymus vulgaris, has an antioxidant, antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties remarkable against a wide range of pathogenic microbial organisms. The major components of thyme essential oil are thymol and carvacrol, which have been both shown to possess potent antioxidant properties. In addition, these phenolic compounds exhibit considerable antimicrobial and antifungicidal activities. Thymol is currently used to inhibit oral bacteria. It has been suggested that their lipophilic property and chemical structure can play a role. It was suggested that terpenoids and phenylpropanoids can penetrate the membranes of the bacteria and reach the inner part of the cell because of their lipophilicity.
The effect of thyme on the performance of broilers and quails was studied and shows an effect on the live weight gain and the improvement of the health of poultry, in addition to other performance traits, feed conversion ratio and feed intake.
Supplementation of thyme essential oil stimulate the secretion of pancreatic enzymes that would improve the digestibility of the diet and its valorisation which would explain the significant improvement in animal performance.
This article confirms the interest of certain essential oils as an alternative to antibiotics as growth promoters in birds.