Oregano essential oil in the diet of broilers: performance, carcass characteristics, and blood parameters
Efficacy of the phytogenic feed additive oregano essential oil (OEO) (Origanum vulgare L.) was assessed as an alternative to an antibiotic as a growth promoter (AGP) in broiler diets. Three hundred male broiler chicks were assigned to five treatments, which consisted of diets with different levels of OEO (300, 600, and 900 mg/kg of diet), a negative control, and a positive control. Broiler performance was evaluated from 1 to 21 and 1 to 39 days old. From 1 to 39 days old, the broilers of the negative control group presented lower feed intake than those fed OEO300. No significant effect was observed on weight gain. The greatest feed conversion ratio occurred in the positive control group. Broilers treated with OEO300 had greater carcass yield than those in the positive control group. The haemogram, leukogram, and heterophil/lymphocyte ratio were positively influenced by OEO300. Red blood cell and leukocyte counts increased in a dose-dependent manner in broilers fed OEO-supplemented diets, while broilers in the positive control group had the lowest levels of haematocrit, mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration, and plasma protein. Differential leukometry revealed lymphocyte numbers were increased with OEO treatment and reduced in the positive control group. For hepatic and renal metabolism, the broilers in the positive control group exhibited the greatest serum activities of aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, gamma-glutamyl transferase, and alkaline phosphatase. Although more studies on its efficacy are needed, OEO at 300 mg/kg may be used as a phytogenic additive in broiler diets, especially those without AGP.
Keywords: antibiotic as growth promoter, immune system, phytogenic feed additive