Interpretive Summary: Effects of phytogenic additives on meat quality traits in broiler chickens.
By: Dr. Thomas Powell
As livestock production has moved away from the use of direct-feed antibiotics, there has been increased interest in alternative products to enhance growth and health of animals. For the poultry industry, one such class of products in phytogenic additives –formulated plant-derived products consisting of a combination of herbs. The University of Arkansas recently completed a feeding trial of some of these products to determine their effect on meat quality traits in broiler chickens. The study was published in the Journal of Animal Science.
Five hundred seventy-six male broiler chicks were assigned to one of six dietary treatments: a control basal diet and five diets supplemented with one of five phytogenic additives. Three were supplemented in feed and 2 in water. Birds were processed at 42 d when carcass traits and stress and antioxidant-related gene expression were evaluated.
Birds receiving additives via water had higher broiler, hot carcass and chilled carcass weights and had lower fat pad percentages. Researchers are unsure if this was due to an increase in water consumption or an unknown difference in the makeup of the additives that were delivered via the water. Contrary to previously reported studies, sensory panelists did not detect differences in basic flavor and aroma components in cooked breast fillets among treatment groups. In the case of one supplement, stronger green herb flavor was picked up when compared to the control group.
The most striking result was in the antioxidant activity. Birds supplemented with the phytogenic additives had a greater total antioxidant activity compared to the control fed broilers. TBARS values (an indicator of oxidation) were higher in the control birds. Gene analysis indicates this was likely due to the modulation of mitogen activated protein kinase- and antioxidant-related genes.
Phytogenic additives show promise to improve meat quality and, depending on method of administration, growth rate and efficiency. Further research is warranted to determine specific mechanisms of action and to optimal supplement methods and levels.
To view the full article, visit the Journal of Animal Science.