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Evaluation of Alternatives to Antibiotic Feed Additives in Broiler Production.

Byline: Majed Rafeeq, Nadeem Rashid, Muhammad Masood Tariq, Rassol Bakhsh Tareen, AsadUllah and Zahid Mustafa


The study was conducted to evaluate the effect of herbs as feed additive on performance of broiler alternative to antibiotics. One-day-old (N=320) broiler chicks were divided into eight treatment groups with four replicates of ten chicks. Six treatments were three herbs i.e. Allium sativum, Cassia angustifolia and Artemisia scoparia @ 0.5 and 1.0% respectively, control (basal diet), and a positive control (Oxyfeed(r) @ 2g/kg). In the study, the treatment groups, which were given diet supplemented with herb and antibiotic, exhibited improved weight gain, average daily gain, and feed conversion (P0.05). The treatment groups supplemented with Allium sativum showed higher growth performance compared to Cassia angustifolia and Artemisia scoparia and control (P0.05). The Relative length of the intestine of the treatment groups showed significant difference (P<0.05). Supplementation of herbal additives and antibiotic had a positive effect on bacterial enumeration of Ileum (P0.05) was observed in the weight of the chicks was observed and overall mean was 39.24g/chick. The dietary supplementation of the herbs as additive indicated a significant (P0.05), which was followed by T4, T3, T6 and T5 which was insignificant with each other (P>0.05). The supplementation of the Allium sativum @ 1.0 and 0.5% in the feed exhibited results comparable to antibiotic. There was no significant difference (P>0.05) in feed intake between treatment groups (Table II).

In the present study, treatment groups supplemented with additives, showed improved feed efficiency and average daily gain (Table II). The use of garlic at both (0.5 and 1%) levels exhibited better feed conversion and daily weight gain compared to the other herbal treatments (P0.05). Similarly other herbal additive groups showed better feed efficiency and daily gain compare to control (P0.05). However, numerical differences were observed in the relative weight of the organs in the study. The prominent features of the intestinal segments observed in the study are given in Table IV. There was no significant difference (P>0.05) found between treatment groups in the length of duodenum, jejunum, ileum and intestine. But the relative length of the different segments and intestine of treatment groups revealed a significant difference (P<0.05). The highest relative length (9.37 +-0.28) of the intestine was observed in T7 and lowest (8.08 +-0.14) was in T1 (P<0.05). Supplementation of the additives to the broiler diets caused a reduction (numerical) in the length of the intestine.

The composition of bacterial enumeration of ileum at the end of the experiment on the day-42 is shown in Table V. Different treatments had a significant (P0.05). Coliform bacterial CFU count was lowest in T1and T3, which were followed by T8. Lactic acid bacterial enumeration showed no significant difference (P>0.05) between treatments. Least (4.75 +-0.25) lactic acid bacterial count was observed in T8 followed by (5.25 +-0.47) in T7 and highest count (6.00 +-0.40) log10 CFU/g digesta was in T1, respectively.


In the present study, body weight gain and feed conversion, which were broiler performance indices, increased in additive supplemented groups compared to control. The effect of herbal additive and antibiotic additive was found to be insignificant (P>0.05). The use of antibiotic as growth promoter has previously been reported in addition to their drawback resulting in antimicrobial resistance (Aarestup et al., 2000). The beneficial effects of herbs in the present study are in line with studies of Elagib et al. (2013) and Lukanov et al. (2015), suggesting that supplementation of herbs to broiler diet increased performance indices. This increase in weight gain and feed conversion efficiency could be due to beneficial effects of the herbs in terms of change in gut environment, decreased microbial metabolites, competitive elimination of the pathogenic bacteria and their toxic metabolites from the intestinal tract (Chrubasik et al., 2005; Kabir, 2009; Ramiah et al., 2014).

In the present study, the control feeding system was opted to neglect the effect of height as the study was undertaken at about 1635meter above sea level. However, in other studies, even though ad libitum feed was offered, no significant difference was observed between control and additive supplemented groups in terms of feed intake (Choi et al., 2010). Supplementation of the antibiotic and herbs as additive resulted in better FCR. The improved feed conversion could be due to better digestion, increased absorption, of nutrients (Kabir, 2009). The reduced number of pathogens in the intestinal tract could also result in nutrient sparing effect, available for the host bird otherwise utilized by the bacteria or lost in the feces unabsorbed (Wenk, 2003).

The length of the intestine could be affected by the type of ingredients used in the feed (Wang et al., 2005) and wheat based diet has been reported to cause an increase in the length of intestine due to the presence of arabinoxylans (Annison and Choct, 1991). In the present study, difference in length of intestine might also be due to the changes in the digesta characteristics like viscosity.

The result of the present study indicated that it affected the microbial composition of the ileum. The use of antimicrobial as additive had the most profound effects on microbial population and caused the reduction in the all kinds of bacterial population. The results are in agreement with the study of Engberg et al. (2000) showing that antibiotic additive reduced intestinal microbial load. Similarly, there are reports suggesting phytogenic feed additives also act as antimicrobial agents under in-vivo conditions as synthetic antibiotics with different mode of action and beside exclusion of pathogenic bacteria they act as prebiotic (Jamroz et al., 2003; McReynolds et al., 2009) and support the enumeration of the lactic acid bacteria thought to be beneficial bacterial population (Wati et al., 2015).

In general, the improved performance of the treatment groups supplemented with herbs used as feed additive are due to different bioactive ingredients present in herbs and exhibiting their activities in different ways.


In conclusion, the result of the present study revealed that culinary and medicinal herbs had multiple additional potentials compared to antibiotic feed additives and can be used as alternative to antibiotic feed additives. The inclusion level of herbs used in the present study was observed to be beneficial. Moreover, supplementation of feed with A. sativum in particular and C. angustifolia and A. scoparia to some extend had beneficial effects on performance parameters and gut microbial population.

Statement of conflict of interest

Authors have declared no conflict of interest.


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Author:Rafeeq, Majed; Rashid, Nadeem; Tariq, Muhammad Masood; Tareen, Rassol Bakhsh; AsadUllah; Mustafa, Za
Publication:Pakistan Journal of Zoology
Article Type:Report
Date:Jun 30, 2017
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