USE OF A HERBAL SUPPLEMENT TO REDUCE THE EFFECTS OF STRESS IN INTENSIVELY HOUSED CHICKENS

G.E. Wheeler, R. Fields
Intensive livestock production, whilst cost effectively converting lower grade foodstuffs to high grade animal protein, imposes levels of stress on the animals. The effects of stress are to produce an homeostatic change, that is, a rebalancing of the animals' metabolism. This homeostatic change has an inappropriate component caused largely by an increase in the secretion of adrenocorticosteroid hormones. Stress, then, produces a reduction in lean meat deposition and an increase in the biosynthesis of fat; also, an immunosuppression results in a reduction in the animals' ability to mount an effective response to a field challenge from potentially pathogenic organisms. Several plant materials have been shown to contain components with anti-stress and immunomodulatory activity (ASIM) at least in laboratory animals. A non-toxic, safe ASIM powder has been produced in India. In small scale trials, using additional known stressors on chicken production, an increase in daily live weight gain of 6% and a decrease in feed conversion ratio of 7% was demonstrated.

Two large scale investigations into the use of ASIM on chicken production in the U.K. are reported. The first of these reports a 50% decrease in mortality of ASIM treated birds compared to untreated controls when the flocks were challenged with a field strain of Infectious Bursal Disease virus. Another trial involving 100,000 birds showed an increase of the order of 10% live weight and a decrease of 6% in feed conversion ratio following the use of ASIM in the birds' diets.

The use of herbal anti-stress preparations as an aid to production of chicken meat is discussed.

Wheeler, G.E. and Fields, R. (1993). USE OF A HERBAL SUPPLEMENT TO REDUCE THE EFFECTS OF STRESS IN INTENSIVELY HOUSED CHICKENS. Acta Hortic. 344, 496-511
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.1993.344.57
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.1993.344.57
344_57
496-511

Acta Horticulturae