Effects of a phytogenic feed additive on growth performance and ileal nutrient digestibility in broiler chickens

Poult Sci. 2011 Dec;90(12):2811-6. doi: 10.3382/ps.2011-01515.


A study was undertaken to examine the effects of a phytogenic feed additive (PFA) containing essential oils of thyme and star anise as lead active components on the growth performance and apparent ileal nutrient digestibility in broiler chickens. In total, 528 one-day-old Cobb male broilers were randomly divided into 4 dietary treatment groups with 6 replicate pens per treatment group (22 birds each). The dietary treatments were a control starter and grower basal diet without PFA or 150, 750, or 1,500 mg/kg of PFA. Body weight, weight gain, and feed intake were not significantly influenced by the feed additive, but the feed conversion ratio during the grower (22-42 d) and overall (1-42 d) periods improved linearly (P < 0.05) by the administration of PFA compared with that of the control diet. The average weights of the liver, heart, kidneys, and spleen were not significantly affected by the PFA. The results of the apparent ileal digestibility of crude ash, CP, crude fat, calcium, and phosphorus showed a linear increase (P < 0.05) related to the increase of PFA dose in the diet. Therefore, the means of digestibility of these nutrients were significantly higher in birds fed the PFA for all categories of age compared with the digestibility of these nutrients in the controls. In conclusion, the mode of action of the tested PFA can be explained by an improvement in the nutrient digestibility in the small intestine. The underlying physiological mechanisms, however, need to be characterized further.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Chickens / growth & development*
  • Diet / veterinary*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Digestion / drug effects*
  • Digestion / physiology
  • Ileum / drug effects*
  • Illicium / chemistry
  • Male
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Thymus Plant / chemistry


  • Plant Oils