Is broccoli extract better than essential oils in broilers?

In poultry production, the desire to produce fast growing chickens may result in challenges such as oxidative stress. Essential oils have been shown to possess antioxidant properties. Recent studies have identified similar properties in broccoli waste. Can the value of broccoli waste be equated to that of essential oils?


Essential oils have been re- ported to pos- sess significant antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

recent survey (2018) carried out in Thailand re- vealed a strong consumer preference for meat products raised with natural phytogenic feed ad- ditives and products that reduce environmental

impact. In addition to its nutritional value, the utilisation of broccoli waste in the feed industry can help reduce the nega- tive environmental impact resulting in deposition of this waste. Researchers at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wit- tenberg in Germany made a comparison of broccoli extract with essential oils from turmeric, oregano, thyme and rose- mary on performance, xenobiotic and antioxidant enzymes in broilers. Their study comprised a total of 240-day-old broiler chickens that were fed a commercial starter diet for two weeks. On day 15, the birds were assigned to six treatment groups: (i) the control group was fed a diet without any addi- tive for three weeks, (ii) the diet of group sulforaphane (SFN)

contained broccoli extract, providing 0·075 g/kg SFN, (iii) the diets of the other four groups contained 0·15 g/kg essential oils from turmeric, oregano, thyme and rosemary. Their findings are presented in the sections below.

Broccoli vs essential oils Before getting to the results of the study, it is important to have some background information on these two alternatives. Broccoli florets are usually consumed as cooked food. However, the discarded, potentially nutritious stems and leaves of broc- coli often go into landfills as by-products after harvesting and processing of the florets. Incorporating broccoli residues in ani- mal feed thus adds to the sustainable feed base while reducing potential harm to the environment. Broccoli is rich in dietary fi- bres, vitamins and minerals, as well as bioactive phytochemi- cals. Most phytochemicals are known to possess strong antiox- idant properties. Essential oils can be obtained from plant materials (leaves, buds, fruits, flowers, herbs, twigs, bark, wood, roots and seeds). Essential oils have been reported to possess significant antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Studies show that essential oils positively affect the growth and perfor- mance of chickens by improving feed palatability, secretion of digestive enzymes and nutrient digestibility, although these findings are not always consistent.

Study results The researchers aimed to study the induction of antioxidant response element (ARE)-regulated xenobiotic and antioxidant enzymes, and the performance of broilers fed broccoli extract and the various essential oils – to see if differences exist between the essential oils and the broccoli extract.

Performance The feed intake was similar between the broccoli supplement and all the essential oils (turmeric, oregano, thyme and rose- mary). However, feed intake was numerically better for the broccoli diet compared to either oregano oil, thyme oil or rosemary oil. The order (from highest to lowest) was as fol- lows: turmeric oil > broccoli extract > thyme oil > oregano oil > rosemary oil.

12 ▶ ALL ABOUT FEED | Volume 28, No. 3, 2020



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