Important oils being research to see they assist intestine well being, combat illness

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University of Queensland researchers are studying the benefits of essential oils for animal welfare, productivity and sustainability in the Australian chicken industry.

Professor Eugeni Roura of UQ’s Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation said that essential oils that have pathogen-fighting properties are being introduced into the diet of farmed chickens.

“We will determine whether important essential oil compounds are transferred to the egg and whether they have significant benefits to the health and resilience of the embryos,” said Professor Roura. “The most critical phase in the life of a broiler chick is the first few hours after hatching. This is the case when the young bird is more susceptible to environmental pathogens, but its defenses and natural gut flora are not well established. “

The research team to which the project leaders Dr. Marta Navarro and Dr. Shahram Niknafs are testing Australian essential oils like tea tree oil, lemon myrtle, nerolina, niaouli, lemon myrtle, anise myrtle, eucalyptus and Tasmanian pepper.

“These native oils have powerful antioxidant or disease-fighting properties and have been extensively researched here at UQ,” said Dr. Navarro. “This study aims to develop a feeding program to minimize disease in chicks in order to improve productivity and sustainability.”

She said essential oils could affect the communication and spread of bacteria, such as inhibiting the formation of bacterial biofilms.

“This could open up new ways to control unwanted bacterial populations in the chick’s gut while it is still in the egg,” said Dr. Navarro. “In addition, the oils can stimulate appetite and digestion to promote strong and vigorous early growth and development.”