Oregano essential oil, well-documented for its antimicrobial action when included in the diets of various poultry species, has been found to be particularly effective in supporting birds during periods of disease challenge, such as coccidiosis.
Coccidiosis, universally present across all poultry production systems, results in global economic losses estimated to be around $3 billion per year in broilers alone. It is a protozoal parasitic disease which results in extensive damage to the lining of the birds’ gastrointestinal tract and is caused by different species of Eimeria. Sub-clinical coccidiosis can result in depressed productivity, leading to reduced growth rates and inefficient performance. Clinical signs include elevated mortality and lower meat or egg production.
The findings from trials conducted by Greg Mathis’ team at Southern Poultry Research in Georgia, USA show that, oregano essential oil, can complement anticoccidial vaccination programs by helping to reduce the severity of negative implications associated with vaccination on bird performance, whilst still enabling birds to build immunity against the disease.
“Vaccination programs are commonly used to help prevent coccidiosis outbreak in poultry enterprises. And, as a live vaccine its administration can be associated with a short period of depressed performance,” explained Dr Helen Houghton MRCVS, a veterinarian and Anpario director. “Oregano essential oil has been found to help reduce the negative implications of vaccination on productivity.”
In vaccinated birds challenged with coccidia the addition of dietary oregano essential oil was found, in the trials, to improve overall body weight gain, feed conversion ratio (FCR) and reduce lesions within the gastrointestinal tract compared with birds receiving anti-coccidial vaccine alone.
The presence of numerous compounds within natural oregano essential oil offer benefits to poultry including anti-parasitic and antioxidant functions, as well as having positive immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory properties.