Natural Plant extracts in Animal Feed: Yucca schidigera
Plant extracts are complex mixtures of plant secondary metabolites that appear as one of the natural alternatives to antibiotic
Yucca schidigera is an herbaceous plant of the lily family, native to the deserts of the south-western United States and northern Mexico. This plant was used in traditional medicine by Native Americans to treat a variety of ailments including arthritis. In the United States, yucca products are used in the horse feed industry to relieve symptoms of arthritis in horses. Thus, a beneficial effect of yucca on arthritis could involve anti-protozoal, anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial activities. Extracts or preparations from yucca plants are used in the feed industry to promote digestion and improve production performance.
The mechanism of the antiprotozoal effects of Yucca schidigera is that saponins form irreversible complexes with cholesterol. Thus, reductions in ruminal protozoa numbers observed when saponins are fed and within in vitro ruminal fermentation systems are caused by reaction of saponins with cholesterol in the protozoal cell membrane, causing breakdown of the membrane, cell lysis, and death. Yucca schidigera supports the growth of beneficial bacteria.
The active ingredients of Yucca schidigera are mainly:
1) Steroidal saponins:
- Have surfactant properties.
- Increase the permeability of the intestinal wall of animals, promoting the absorption of nutrients.
- Inhibit the growth of some microorganisms, while stimulating the other.
- Joining the ammonia in the gut.
- Very thermostable.
Yucca extracts are commonly used in swine, poultry and rabbits production, they have demonstrated effectiveness in: Reduction of intestinal gas; Deodorizing effect by decreasing the production of ammonia (Ammonia is one of the microbial products that is known to have negative health effects in both humans and animals. A major source of ruminal ammonia is proteolysis of bacterial protein, occurring as a result of ingestion of ruminal bacteria by protozoa); Increase the comfort of people and animals; Reduction of intestinal infections; Regulation of intestinal transit by reducing the incidence of diarrhea; Greater acceptance of pig meat by reducing the unpleasant odors and improve productivity parameters, mainly feed conversion and increased production by improving the digestion of some nutrients through the intestinal mucosa, improving the permeability of the bowel wall, and increasing the immune responses.