Micro Emulsions in Poultry

Micro Emulsions in PoultryMicro emulsions in Poultry are dispersion’s of oil and water with an emulsifier. They are clear, thermodynamically stable, isotropic liquid mixtures. They are super solvents which improves stability and thermodynamic activity of formulation. Micro emulsions are beneficial to be used because it increases efficacy of the formulation allowing dose reduction. The average particle size of micro emulsion is 0.1 micrometer which helps in increasing the inter facial area thereby allowing active ingredient to get released easily. In poultry, micro emulsions are designed to include natural essential oils cell wall which in turn binds to mycotoxins to protect animals against mycotoxosis.

Vinayak Ingredients have introduced micro emulsion which is an alternative to antibioticsnamed as Herbofloxin. It is of natural origin prepared from essential oil of syzygium, citronella, thymus, eucalyptus. Herbofloxin has a particle size less than 0.1 micrometer which makes it easily soluble in water. It maintains poultry gut’s pH-6.5 to 6.7 which is slightly acidic. As it is a micro emulsion it has better dispersion in water, stable at 45 degree Celsius temperature and has a longer shelf life. All these factors makes it safe to be consumed by poultry without having any side effects which are otherwise usually caused by using antibiotics. Herbofloxin is natural replacer for antibiotic growth promoters.

Mechanism of action: Herbofloxin being a micro emulsion when mixed with water forms nano emulsion due to which particle size decreases further making it easier to penetrate the bacterial cell wall and disrupt it. Disruption of cell wall leads to killing of bad bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Clostridium and Salmonella. Thus it acts like a bacteriostatic. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory by improving mucin coverage which is a first line of defence in poultry.

Herbofloxin as a micro emulsion replaces antibiotics such as tetracycline’s, fluoroquinolones, amino glycosides and selectively modulates poultry gut to promote the beneficial microflora.

Poultry Gut Microbiome

Poultry Gut MicrobiomeThe microbiome of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of poultry is very diverse yet relatively stable in a dynamic state. The poultry (e.g. duck, chicken and turkey) GI tract consists of cloaca, colon, cecum, small intestines (duodenum, jejunum and ileum), gizzard, proventriculus, crop and esophagus. The GI tract of the poultry is much shorter than that of mammalian animals. But it contains highest bacterial abundance and diversity. The bacteria found in the intestine mostly include Escherichia coli, Lactobacillus, Bacteroids, Eubacterium, Peptostreptococcus, Propionibacterium as predominant organisms. Other group of micro organisms such as anaerobic, gram-negative cocci, facultative anaerobic cocci and streptococci are also found in the GI tract. In this article we briefly discuss the factors affecting the poultry gut micro biome and its importance for poultry nutrition.

Microbiome and Host

Many intestinal bacteria hydrolyze carbohydrates to simple sugars which are further fermented to short chain fatty acids (SCFA) (viz., butyrate, propionate and acetate) by other intestinal bacteria. The SCFA are utilized as a source of energy and carbon. Gut bacteria also contribute to host nitrogen metabolism. These bacteria metabolize uric acid to NH3, which is utilized by the host to synthesize a few amino acids such as glutamine. Gut micro biome of poultry may also serve as a source of vitamin to its host. Mucins secreted by goblet cells of the gut are important source of carbon, nitrogen and energy for some commensal and pathogenic bacteria. Gut micro biome also has impact on intestinal morphology of poultry. One such effect is evident when birds raised on a conventional diet show shorter intestinal villi and shallow crypts with low load of bacteria. However, dietary supplementation of probiotic organisms increases villus height: crypt depth ratio in ileum of broilers.

Microbiome and Immunity

The first line of defense mechanism in the inner surface of avian gut is the gel-like mucus layer formed from mucin glycoprotein produced by the goblet cells. The mucus layer prevents the intestinal pathogens from penetrating into intestinal epithelium. The disruption of the mucus layer is probably due to the severe necrosis of the intestinal mucosa which results in vast shedding of goblet cells. Production of beta-defensin is another important strategy present on the intestinal epithelial surface. Βeta-defensin are produced by avian macrophage, heterophils and epithelial cells that kills various intestinal pathogens by disrupting cell membrane permeability. In birds, the cell mediated immunity (T and B cells) can be found in dispersed areas (lamina propria and epithelium) and in more organized lymphoid tissues (Payer’s patches and bursa of fabricius).

Microbiome and Diet

Diet has great potential to modulate the host digestion and nutrient absorption. Wheat, barley or rye-based diets have more impact on the gut micro biome. These diets contain high levels of water-soluble, indigestible, non-starch polysaccharide that favor necrotic enteritis. Excessive non-starch polysaccharide leads to rise in digesta viscosity, decreased digesta passage rate and a decline in nutrient digestibility. Another potential diet ingredient, soyabean is used as a source of protein to promote the growth lactobacilli population and reduce the number of coliforms in cecum of poultry. Some of the gut micro organisms are also influenced by dietary fat source. Dietary enzymes such as xylanase and beta-glucanase, increase intestinal lactic acid bacteria

(LAB) and decrease the population of adverse and pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli. Dietary supplementation with xylanase and beta-glucanase protects against necrotic enteritis as the enzyme breakdown the non starch polysaccharide in the diet and reduce the digesta viscosity. Plant derived trans-cinnamaldehyde and eugenol are effective in reducing S. enteritis colonization in 20-d old broiler chickens. Others such as blend of essential oils, containing thymol, carvacrol, eugenol, curcumin and piperin reduce the colonization and proliferation of such pathogens. Antibiotic growth promoter (AGP) is another feed additive used to improve feed efficiency, increase animal growth and maintain animal health. The inclusion of AGP in poultry diet reduces the incidence of disease and promotes better performance of the birds by inhibiting the growth of enteric pathogens. However, due to rising antibiotic resistance among the pathogens, the use of AGP has been prohibited. The proliferation of the bacteria present in the gut can be increased by the ingestion of prebiotics. Prebiotics are polysaccharides such as galatosaccharide (GOS) and fructosaccharide (FOS). GOS favors the growth of Bifidobacteria in the GI tract of broiler chicken.

Competition for nutrient and attachment site

The GI tract of newly hatched chick is sterile, but is immediately colonized by surrounding organisms. Over the period of time, normal colonization and succession of gut micro biome takes place in healthy adult poultry’s intestine. The GI tract serves as an ideal habitat for micro organisms however, due to limited space and resources; there is competition among organisms for nutrient resources. Some bacteria produce bacteriostatic or bactericidal substances to kill its competitors. The LAB ferment carbohydrates to organic acids and inhibits the growth of certain pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella by reducing the pH of the gut. Certain bacteria such as Enterococcus sp., Pediococcus sps., Bacillus subtilis also produce antimicrobial agent called bacteriocins to selectively inhibit the growth of other bacteria. However, pathogens are adapted to new environment very fast mediated by a process such as conjugation, transformation and transduction. Providing probiotics (live microbial feed supplement) benefits the host through the following mechanisms: (1) inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria from colonizing and proliferating in the gut through competition for nutrient and attachment site (2) production of bacteriostatic and bactericidal substances against pathogens (3) enhancing gut barrier function and (4) enhancing host immunity.

Poultry litter microorganisms influence gut microbiome

Chickens are in constant contact with the micro organisms from the surrounding environment. The poultry litter usually harbors a complex microbial community. Reuse of poultry litter commonly practiced by poultry farmers to reduce produce cost, influences chicken guts micro biome. The reused litter may also harbor disease-causing micro organisms from the previous flock and thus serves as a source of pathogens to the subsequent flock.


The gut represents an essential microbial ecosystem that lives in symbiosis with the host. The development of GI micro biome plays a crucial role in the nutrition, health and growth of the chicken. Thus further research on the intestinal micro biome of the poultry can potentially provide us more knowledge to improve management of poultry diseases, antibiotic resistance and better control of colonization and spread of human pathogens.

Changing Trends in Antibiotic Use in the Poultry Industry

Changing Trends in Antibiotic Use in the Poultry IndustryA major feature of poultry production nowadays is the reduction of in use of antibiotics as growth promoters, and this is majorly due to concerns over bacterial resistance.

Antibiotics used in a widespread manner as a feed additive can lead to development of Bacterial resistance as the residual antibiotics in the tissues of poultry can be consumed by humans. The bacteria resistant to antimicrobials may also get transferred from one individual to another individual leading to reduced performance of antimicrobials in humans.  This prompted the WHO in 1997 and the Economic and Social Committee of the European Union in 1998 to conclude that the use of antimicrobials in poultry could be a possible risk for the general health and well being of humans.

Many organisations are focusing their research on the development of alternative strategies to maintain the gut health of poultry and enhance performance of poultry by using various other substances, commonly known as natural growth promoters (NGPs). These Natural Growth Promoters have been identified as effective alternatives to antibiotics. A good popularity has been gained by Phytobiotics as NGPs especially, due to their beneficial effect on gut health, performance of birds and positive effects on the immunity of the bird.

Phytobiotics can be defined as plant derived products added to feed in order to improve performance. They originate from leaves, roots, tubers or fruits of herbs, spices and other plants. Phytobiotics are basically of plant origin, and popular extracts that are gaining interest among researchers and poultry producers are thyme, oregano, turmeric and garlic.

Keeping in mind the changing trends in the market, Vinayak Ingredients launched a natural growth promoter by the brand name Herbofloxin. Herbofloxin maintains the health of the gut and as an alternative to antibiotics. It has phyto-constituents of antibacterial nature that target the gut pathogens including important zoonotic bacteria. As a result, Herbofloxin promotes the growth of commensals.

Herbofloxin provides immune-modulator effect which improves tolerance to pathogenic bacteria and improves gastrointestinal micro-climate so as to improve the digestibility and uptake of nutrients. All these results almost nullify the requirement of antibiotics making it as an effective natural antimicrobial growth promoter.

Antibiotics!!! Do we need them?

Antibiotics - Do the livestock need them

Ever wondered why antibiotics are good, bad or evil? Well if you need an orientation session with the use and misuse of antibiotics, this is your space to read.

We all know definitions are important, so here we go. For a technically sound person the word ‘Antibiotics’ are agents which work against microorganisms. To put it into lay man perspective, these are substances/compounds which kill or slow down the growth of harmful bacteria, fungi or similar bugs that thrive on other living or dead things.  By the end of that “Layman term” explanation we would have understood that there isn’t a layman term for antibiotics and you don’t have to Einstein or for that matter Sheldon your way (Courtesy big bang theory) to understand the science behind antibiotics.

To make things clearer lets classify them into four practical categories (Oh I would love to classify them into seven different ways so that you need to classify the classification types to complicate matters, but this not what we intend to graduate in).

  • Chemically – Molecular structures (Beta lactams, Quinones, Aminoglycosides……)
  • Target microorganisms (Antibacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti protozoal… )
  • Mechanism of action(Cell wall, enzyme, DNA….)
  • Evolutionary ( 1st generation, 2nd gen, New world )

Use of Antibiotics in the feed industry

Firstly not all antibiotics those are used as feed additives for animals and used in humans for treatment. The importance of this fact is rivaling many issues on banning of antibiotics as feed additives.  We will touch base with this statement again when we deal with the statement of antibiotic resistance. In the livestock industry antibiotics are used primarily for three reasons

  1. Treatment of bacterial, fungal and other infectious diseases.
  2. Prevention of infections , as a precautionary in feed compulsion.
  • Growth promotion,to improve final body weight of birds raised for meat.

Many antibiotics used in treatment of livestock used for meat purpose are the same antibiotics used in humans. These include a major share of quinolones. Although the figures below in the table reflect otherwise one should also consider that these antibiotics given under the treatment regime are given for a small 4 or 5 day schedule and often used in very small quantities. If proper withdrawal periods are used these antibiotics are excreted from the body of the animal well before slaughter. The table below shows us the volume compartmentalisation of antibiotic use.

Use by volume Humans Animal
Pencilins 44 % 6 %
Cephalasporins 15% 1%
Sulfa 14% 3%
Quinolones 9% less than 1%
Macrolides 5% 4%
Tetracyclines 4% 41%
Ionophores 0% 30%

In the next blog we learn more about antibiotic resistance and how it impacts us …