Evaluation of linalool, a natural antimicrobial and insecticidal essential oil from basil: effects on poultry

Poult Sci. 2014 Feb;93(2):267-72. doi: 10.3382/ps.2013-03254.


Linalool is a natural plant-product used in perfumes, cosmetics, and flavoring agents. Linalool has proven antimicrobial and insect-repellent properties, which indicate it might be useful for control of enteropathogens or insect pests in poultry production. However, there are no published reports that linalool may be safely administered to or tolerated by chickens. Linalool was added to the diets of day-of-hatch chicks, and they were fed linalool-supplemented diets for 3 wk. We studied the effects of linalool on serum chemistry, gross pathology, feed conversion, and relative liver weights. Linalool had a dramatic negative dose-dependent effect on feed conversion at concentrations in the feed exceeding 2% linalool, but not on gross pathology. Liver weights were significantly increased in the 5% linalool-treated birds. There was a statistical effect on blood glucose, but this parameter remained below the cut-offs for elevated serum glucose, and the result is likely of no biological significance. Linalool caused serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels to increase, but it did not increase serum gamma-glutamyl transferase levels. The linalool effect on AST was dose-dependent, but in linalool doses between 0.1 and 2% of the feed, AST was not elevated beyond normal parameters. Linalool at 2% or less may be safely added to chicken feed. We suggest future studies to evaluate the addition of linalool to the litter, where it may be used as an antimicrobial or an insect repellent or to produce a calming effect.

Keywords: bacteria; clinical chemistry panel; insect repellant; linalool; poultry.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Animal Feed / analysis
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Infective Agents / adverse effects*
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / veterinary
  • Chickens / growth & development*
  • Chickens / metabolism*
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Insecticides / administration & dosage
  • Insecticides / adverse effects*
  • Monoterpenes / administration & dosage
  • Monoterpenes / adverse effects*
  • Ocimum basilicum / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / administration & dosage
  • Oils, Volatile / adverse effects*
  • Organ Size
  • Pathology
  • Weight Gain


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Insecticides
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • linalool