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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

Essential™ Shows Potential Benefit for Drug-Free and Organic Turkey Production


As the U.S. broiler industry transitions to broiler growing programs devoid of antibiotic growth promoters and ionophore anticoccidials in feed, optimal intestinal function becomes critical to maximizing profit margin. The broiler industry in Brazil is in many respects ahead of the U.S. with implementation of NAE programs, based on the restraints imposed by importing nations. Broiler producers in Brazil have evaluated and selected phytogenic feed additives that modulate the intestinal microbiome and promote the integrity and absorptive capability of the duodenal and jejunal mucosa. 


Functional oils are extensively incorporated in broiler diets in Brazil based on laboratory and controlled field evaluation following a comprehensive appreciation of the mode of action at the molecular and microbiological levels.  Functional oils have been shown to demonstrate a biological activity that extends beyond their metabolizable energy values. 


Essential™ is a proprietary combination of castor oil and an extract from cashew nut shells, heat-treated to 200 C. Essential™ is patented in the U.S. and is now manufactured by Oligo Basics Inc. in Georgia. The parent company located in Cascavel, PR, Brazil was established in 1999 to develop and commercialize non-antibiotic growth promoters.


The active molecule in castor oil is ricinoleic acid representing over 90 percent of the fatty acid content.  This compound is antimicrobial, immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory in its activity within the intestinal tract.  Heat-treated liquid extract of cashew nut shells contains cardanol a decarboxylated derivative of anacardic acid. Cardol, an alkylresorcinol is a second active component with selective anti-bacterial properties.  Laboratory and field evaluation have demonstrated synergistic activity when cashew nut shell liquid is combined with castor oil in a stable mixture formulated as a feed additive. The product enhances immune response with specific activity against subclinical coccidiosis that represents a challenge when growers are reliant on hatchery-administered vaccine.


It appeared likely that benefits from Essential™ obtained by broiler producers will be applicable to turkeys, Accordingly in 2020, Essential™ was evaluated as a feed additive for turkey toms by a research team led by Dr. Peter Ferket at the Prestage Department of Poultry Science, North Carolina State University.  Essential™ was supplemented through 12 weeks of age and was compared to monensin at 66 ppm and non-medicated control poults in a replicate floor pen trial. 


At 12 weeks of age, body weight of controls was 18.90 lb. compared to the monensin treatment at 20.88 lb. and the Essential™ treatment attaining 19.71 lb.  Turkeys in both the monensin and Essential™ treatments were significantly higher than the control with monensin in turn significantly higher than Essential™.  There was no difference in feed intake, ranging from 37.25 lb. (control) kg to 38.50 lb. (monensin) with Essential™ at 38.06 lb.  There was no difference in mortality among treatments that ranged from 5.6 percent for Essential™ to 6.7 percent for the control.


At 21 days of age, the monensin treatment demonstrated the highest surface area of intestinal mucosa at 617 μm2 compared to Essential™ at 549 μm2 but this treatment was not significantly different from either the monensin or control treatments.


In evaluating the trial, the authors presumed that all poults were subjected to low-level coccidiosis, given that recycled poultry litter was placed in the pens.  Both functional oils and monensin improved weight gain over the first 12-weeks of the growing period but monensin contributed to the most favorable feed conversion ratio.


Monensin has both growth promoting and anti-coccidial properties and these actions contributed to the enhanced weight gain and feed conversion efficiency.


Although Essential™ was not as beneficial as monensin in promoting performance through 12-weeks, if turkeys are to be raised under drug free feeding systems, Essential™ may enhance performance and return over feed and other variable costs. This is possible through extending protection provided by day-old coccidiosis vaccine, thereby potentially reducing the emergence of clostridial enterotoxemia and histomoniasis. In a drug-free or organic production program, Essential™ will contribute to growth promotion through antioxidant and immunomodulatory action within the jejunum. Feed conversion efficiency may be enhanced by supplementing poult diets with Essential™ through increasing the absorptive surface area of the mucosa compared to non-supplemented controls.


For additional information contact Dr. Joan Torrent Technical director Oligo Basics (952) 451-6968


Ferket, P. et al, Effects of Functional Oils on the Growth, Carcass and Meat Characteristics and Intestinal Morphology of Commercial Turkey Toms. Poultry Science doi/10.1016/j.psj.2020.03.050

Copyright © 2022 Simon M. Shane