Phytobiotics as an alternative to antibiotic growth promoter for food animals

Sanjeev Kumar, TK Dutta, P Roychoudhury, Fatema Akter, PK Subudhi *

With the ever increasing human population the demand of animal protein (meat, milk, egg etc.) is increasing globally. To meet the increasing demand the animal husbandry sector of the world is under tremendous pressure to increase the production and productivity. In most part of the world the food animals are fed with growth promoting supplements like antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) to enhance the production by limiting the growth of pathogenic microorganisms (Arowolo and He, 2018).

A variety of synthetic feed additives including antibiotics and other growth promoting drugs are used in animal feeds to maximize the efficiency of production, product quality and to control diseases (Vidanarachchi et al., 2005). AGPs have been used widely in livestock production for almost 50 years. Although the modes of action of AGPs are not fully understood, the main effects are thought to be mediated via the gut-associated bacteria (Gaskins et al., 2002).

But with time AGP use in the animal feed has been decreasing due to its serious effects on public health and environmental issues (Arowolo and He, 2018). Sweden was the first country in Europe that banned the use of AGPs in 1986 followed by the European Union in 2006 because of the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

However, the ban on AGPs resulted in an increased incidence of enteric disorders in food animals. Before the implementation of this complete ban on the use of AGPs, some experts attempted to assess possible effects on growth rate and feed conversion efficiency and discussed possible alternatives after the ban (Wenk, 2003). This leads to increased demand to search for natural growth supplements as alternatives to AGPs.

The use of plants and plant bioactive compounds dates back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Indians and Greeks (Kamel, 2000). Chinese herbal medicines have been used for many centuries for treating various human and animal diseases (Li, 2000). In recent years, there has been an increased awareness of the potential that natural plant compounds have in the prevention and treatment. Phytobiotics are plant derived natural bioactive compounds that can be incorporated into diets to enhance the performance and well being of animals.

The content of active substances and the chemical composition of phytobiotics in the final products may vary widely depending on the plant parts used (seeds, leaves, etc.), geographical origins, and harvesting season (Windisch et al., 2008). Phytobiotics include a wide range of plant derived products such as essential oils, herbs and oleoresins. They can be added to the diet of commercial animals to improve their productivity through enhancing feed properties, promoting animals’ production performance, and improving the quality of products derived from those animals (Windisch et al., 2008).

Oligosaccharides and polysaccharides such as inulin (fructan), fructooligosaccharide (FOS) and arabinogalactans extracted from plants, and sulfated fucans extracted from seaweeds are potential substitutes for currently used AGPs (Iji and Tivey, 1998). Phytobiotics help in improvement of performance of food animals through various maechnisms and also can be a potential resource as an alternative to AGPs. The various mechanisms of action phytobiotics and their potential applications are described below.

1. Prebiotic effects

It has been observed that some plant extracts can influence the growth of commensal gastro-intestinal microflora by promoting the growth of good intestinal flora or by inhibiting the growth of opportunistic pathogens (Lan et al.,2005).

The protection of the gut environment is now known to play an important role in reducing disease in animals. Thyme and yarrow extracts are reported to have potential to reduce caecal counts of Clostridium perfringens,when incorporated in the broiler diets (Cross et al., 2004). The dietary supplementation of plant extracts containing capsaicin (1.98 g/100g), carvacol (4.95 g/100g) and cinnamic aldehyde (2.97 g/100g) reduced C. perfringens and Escherichia coli counts in colonic contents, wchih is comparable to birds treated with the antibiotic, avilamycin (Jamroz et al., 2003).

2. Antimicrobial effect

Antimicrobial action of phytobiotics is due to the presence of essential oils and phenolic compounds (thymol, carvacrol, phenylpropane, greaniol, etc.) (Yang et al., 2015).The antimicrobial activity (either bactericidal or bacteriostatic) of phytobiotic compounds has been investigated by several researchers against food borne organisms such as protozoa and fungi (Chao et al., 2000).

The presence of the hydroxyl group and delocalized electrons are important elements for their anti microbial action (Lambert et al., 2001). They suggested that the ability of hydrophobic essential oils to intrude into the cell membrane of pathogens, consequently disintegrating their membrane structures and causing ion leakage as a possible explanation of the antimicrobial activity of PFA. Some of them have shown promising activities against Eimeria species after experimental challenge in poultry (Giannenas et al., 2003). Phytobiotics also help in improving the microbial hygiene of carcasses (Aksit et al.,2006).

3. Prevent binding of harmful bacteria

Phytobiotics promote the binding of commensal microflora to the mucosa of the gastro intestinal tract either by specific adhesion of pathogens through the ‘lectin–receptor’ mechanism (agglutination) or by blocking the adhesion of pathogens onto the mucosal layer of the intestine. The phosphorylated mannan oligosaccharides (MOS) from yeast cell walls are extensively studied for their property to prevent the binding of harmful bacteria to GIT mucosa (Spring et al.,2000).

4. Immuno stimulatory effects

Certain plant polysaccharides act as immuno stimulatory (adjuvant effect) substances (Chen et al.,2003). Immune enhancer polysaccharides were obtained by Guo et al. (2003) from two mushroom species; Lentinus endodes and Tremella fuciformis, and a herb, Astragalus membranaceus radix, used in chickens to activate both innate and adaptive immunity. The dietary supplementation of fructooligosaccharides residues in phytobiotics leads to upregulation of immunoglobulin A (IgA) secretion in murine Peyer’s patch cells in the intestinal mucosa (Hosono et al., 2003).

5. Antioxidant and anti inflammatory action

Antioxidant properties of phytobiotics are due to their ability to scavenge free radicals that may play an important role in preventing some diseases (Kamatou and Viljoen, 2010).

Phytobiotic prevents oxidative damage by donating hydrogen or an electron to free radicals and delocalization of the unpaired electron within the aromatic structure (Fernandez-Panchon et al., 2008). Some essential oils have anti inflammatory activities, for example, chamomile essential oil has been used traditionally for centuries as a drug in eczema, dermatitis and other pronounced irritations (Kamatou and Viljoen, 2010).

Other essential oils (eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender, millefolia) from few plants (pine, clove and myrrh) have been used in mixed formulations as anti inflammatory agents (Darsham and Doreswamug, 2004). Rosmarinic acid, oleanolic acid and ursolic acid are the major nonvolatile secondary metabolites found in Origanum spp. with strong antiinflammatory properties (Shen et al., 2010).

6. Growth stimulation

Mohammadi et al. (2015) reported that addition of herbal products to diets has growth promoting effect on poultry and swine. The pigs fed with the diets supplemented with phytobiotics have shown that weight gain and digestibility of dry matter and crude protein were improved by 10.3, 2.9 and 5.9%, respectively (Li et al., 2012) due to improved nutrients digestibility, better average daily gain (ADG) and improved feed conversion ratio (FCR) (Yan et al, 2010).


Use of antibiotics in animal diets to meet the increasing demand of animal protein has been a common practise in livestock farming. A recent study estimating global antibiotic use in poultry, swine and cattle in 2010 indicates that India accounts for 3% of global consumption and is among the top consumers worldwide besides China, USA, Brazil and Germany. It is estimated that the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry will increase by 82% in India by 2030.

This rise in use of antibiotics in livestock farming will be a hurdle in the efforts used to tackle the menace of AMR in the society. However, the use of phytobiotics provides an alternative that can help to tackle the problem of developing AMR associated with livestock and animal based food products.

The available literatures provided an indication and justification that phytobiotics may have the potential to increase the production performance and productivity of the food animals in a similar way as AGPs in near future. More research efforts should be on table to develop and marketing the non-antibiotic animal growth promoter to maintain the sustainability of animal husbandry and to meet the ever increasing demand of animal proteins.

For further details contact:-
Public Relation & Media Management Cell
CAU, Imphal. Email:

* Sanjeev Kumar, TK Dutta, P Roychoudhury, Fatema Akter, PK Subudhi wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writers are from Department of Veterinary Microbiology,CVSc&AH, CAU, Selesih, Aizawl, Mizoram
TK Dutta can be reached at tapandutta(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on October 02 2021.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Ningol Chakkouba @Thanga #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Intl Day of Persons with Disabilities
  • Seminar : Bioeconomy from Bioresources
  • COVID-19 and antibiotic resistance
  • A passion for teaching science
  • Ticket allotment toughest challenge for BJP
  • UAPA arrests, AFSPA & improved law & order
  • Strategies to improve piggery sector
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Beauty lies within you :: Poem
  • Panti Neimei : Prayer for longevity
  • Manager @ KIIT TBI Bhubaneswar
  • Careers in IoT (Internet of Things)
  • Omicron the new avatar of coronavirus
  • Omicron variant scare amid aura of normalcy
  • Book fair @ Manipur Univ #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Dec : Govt of Manipur
  • Why 680,000 AIDS deaths in 2020?
  • 'forward Ethnographic report on Meeitei'
  • Gust of wind :: Poem
  • Political leaders & their credibilities
  • World Heritage Sites in India
  • CM's barb on Imphal centric tribal MLAs
  • Inclusive Manipur: A cure for myriad maladies
  • Cosmos Festival @Maram #3: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • DM University: Place of Hopes or Nothing
  • Protest for ST list at Guwahati
  • Choosing the right candidates
  • Drone warfare
  • MU in limelight for wrong reason
  • Time to review development initiatives
  • Let's Make a Difference: Girl Up Khonjel
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • December Calendar for Year 2021 : Tools
  • Demands extension of Ishan Uday deadline
  • 'Name of Bailey Bridge at Tipaimukh wrong'
  • My lovely mother :: Poem
  • Election in March first week ?
  • Lesson to learn from JCILPS' drive
  • ILP System needs dedicated staff
  • Traditional Fishing Equipment : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Protest for ST list at Delhi
  • Pendraba Khunnaigi Meiri :: Play review
  • The days of yore :: Poem
  • Farmers suitable technique of composting
  • Threat from new variant
  • Landlocked NE needs better connectivity
  • Meetei Leikai @ Silchar #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Antimicrobial resistance is threatening health
  • The Unified Nation :: Poem
  • Manipur Polls 2022: All roads lead to BJP
  • Economic governance; need for Manipur
  • Celebrate festival with Covid protocol
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2021 #5: Gallery
  • Constitution Day at Lilong
  • Constitution Day at Lamphel Court
  • Applicants : Manipur Entrepreneurs Society
  • Executive Committee posts for YMC
  • Transgenders : Struggling for identity
  • Anthelmintic resistance: Havoc to veterinary
  • Signing pacts hallmark policy to delay stir
  • Paddy land conservation
  • Jiribam Keithel [Sept 2021] #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Time heals
  • Manipur women : Champions Sepak Takraw
  • TEDxYouth@RonaldsayRoad at Agartala
  • Tips to make nail paint last longer
  • Health Min data exposes Govt inefficiency
  • Leaving out Manipur from the loop?
  • RIMS, Lamphel, Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Activism Against Gender based Violence
  • National Lok Adalat at Lamphel
  • MPSC cleaning by LAC
  • Hope - the essence of life
  • Students Induction Programme at Lilong
  • Ending cash-for-vote trend a pipedream
  • Pluralistic Manipur & divergent forces
  • Remembering Guru Gourkishwor Sharma
  • Training on mushroom cultivation : Gallery
  • What if TB, HIV medicines stop working?
  • NPF Women Wing Co-ordination meeting
  • World Children's Day
  • Pure passion :: Poem
  • Emergence of NPP in region's politics
  • Taking NE on board
  • Trekking @ Mount Koubru #2 : Gallery
  • Healthcare not handcuffs
  • Asymmetrical Federalism in North-East
  • Dr Konica Khuraijam- Best Educator-2021
  • Webinar : Relations betn India &SE Asia
  • Career as a Product Manager
  • Starting & ending with economic blockade!
  • ST : Renewed campaign & Govt's silence
  • Exposure visit to Kwatha by MTU
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Sustainable Development at Noney
  • Nine Hills One Valley : World premier
  • Rs 3,30,000/- as assistance to journalists
  • Taj by night!
  • Boost for local handloom & handicraft
  • Drug smuggling from/through Manipur
  • Ningol Chakouba Shopping #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • 'AirOThon' for Manipur & Sikkim
  • Environment & antimicrobial resistance
  • A lone night traveller :: Poem
  • Central Govt finally bows to kisans
  • Mera Houchongba @ Kangla #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Improving public transport will reduce pollution
  • Nutrition- Tool for resilience in COVID
  • Take a relook at NEET
  • Glorifying toothless ILP system in state
  • Lapses in ILPS: Complete let-down
  • Cultural Fest @Changangei #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Child Development Manager @ MaolKeki
  • Irujdn hEbi tEbi lMdM :: Seireng
  • The Killing Fields (2013-21) :: News Timeline
  • Is "to be like a girl" an insult?
  • Aloe vera for acne
  • Elections: Plentiful issues, solution minimal
  • Flawed education system & private tuition
  • National Press Day @DIPR : Gallery
  • Book review of Ikigai
  • Free Filmmaking Workshop at Guwahati
  • World Piles Day Colorectal Cancer
  • Diwali with a void
  • Heartache for loyal BJP ticket seekers
  • MPSC: Time for complete overhaul
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Delhi : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Erol Meerol Eigi Choirol
  • Ningol Chakouba organized at Delhi
  • The bare truth-the only truth :: Poem
  • Scientific freshwater prawn culture in NE
  • Equal footing for tribal population
  • Violence and conflict situation
  • Did Tribes Fight for Freedom of our Nation
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Consultation: Protection of Rivers, Leimatak
  • Dr Naorem Bidyasagar- Bal Sahitya Puraskar
  • World Diabetes Day 2021
  • Padma awards now are more peoples' award
  • Bloodshed amid peace in state narrative
  • NE & Delhi: Bridging policy disconnect
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Thanga : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Nupana Khutlingba Samajda 'Nupa'
  • Through Her Eyes : Peace Festival of NE
  • Webinar on US Medical Licensing Exam
  • GMOs, is it a Yes or No?
  • Sobbing in solitude
  • Lesson learnt from ABP News-Cvoter survey
  • Glasgow Climate Pact, a step forward?
  • Ningol Chakkouba: origin & significance
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Exhibition on Judicial Establishments
  • My namesake
  • Kidney patient must take fistula seriously
  • What to see & what to do at Kangla Fort
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Meetei tribe bears more tribal characters..
  • Scholarship payment for OBC & SC students
  • Do you know ? :: Poem
  • COVAXIN data published in The Lancet
  • Disturbing vaccine hesitancy trend
  • Chinese village in Arunachal Pradesh
  • Online Teaching in a Pandemic World
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • State Level Moot-Court Competition
  • Ecological task force in Manipur #2
  • Makeup Competition - Lumiere 2021
  • Essential winter skin care tips
  • Inadequacy of women in decision making
  • Election under the shadow of Covid
  • Ningol Chakouba Shopping #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Legal Services / Commendation Ceremony
  • Handloom & Handicraft of NE in Kolkata
  • Upcoming election: View on social auditing
  • Organic Farming
  • Task cut out for school, college
  • Rise of drug mafias: An impending challenge
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Itanagar : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Ningol Chakouba organized at Arunachal
  • Resolution: Climate Change in Manipur
  • Consultation on Climate Change in Manipur
  • Firecracker hub of Sivakasi in TN
  • Season of turncoats
  • Of defection and Assembly election
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Pune : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Quarantine Center Tamnalai : e-premiered
  • Discussion :: Youth & Electoral Politics -II
  • Ningol Chakouba organized at Pune
  • A new jurisprudence for political prisoners
  • Private sector shaping healthcare landscape
  • Preparation to tackle Covid spread during poll
  • Ching-Tam Ningol Chakouba : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • The worth of my sweat :: Poem
  • Career in science for development
  • Despite India-China disputes, trade persist
  • Chronic shortage in fish production
  • The other parties too matter : NPP & NPF
  • Ningol Chakouba Fish Fair : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • The Mindless Race for Marks
  • Ecological task force in Manipur #1
  • Plastic is a blessing in disguise
  • Ningols on way to her mapam: Gallery
  • Essence of Ningol Chakkouba
  • Kang Tournament @Pishum #2 : Gallery
  • Kwak Tanba @Sana Konung #3 : Gallery
  • Unity Ride @ Khoupum, Noney : Gallery
  • Loktak & Imphal Valley Landscape: Gallery
  • Mera Houchongba @ Kangla #2 : Gallery
  • ZMlgdr AEKoIn :: Seireng
  • Bor khoiramnaba @Hiyangthang #3 : Gallery
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Mera Houchongba @ Kangla #1 : Gallery
  • Abonmai: Shutdown- 4 Oct #3: Gallery
  • Bishwamitra Chongtham - Boxing: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai: Olympics #2: Gallery
  • Manipur Olympians reception : Gallery
  • Mary Kom reception- Aug 20: Gallery
  • Hijam Gourashyam : Manipur Sahitya
  • Sushila Likmabam reception- Aug 18: Gallery
  • S Nilakanta / P Sushila [Aug 11] #2 : Gallery
  • S Nilakanta / P Sushila [Aug 11] #1 : Gallery
  • Mirabai felicitated truck drivers: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @Imphal #3: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @Imphal #2: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @ Kakching: Gallery
  • Shanglakpam Nilakanta: Olympics #2: Gallery
  • Sushila Pukhrambam :: Olympics : Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai : Tokyo Olympics 2020
  • Pukhrambam Sushila : Tokyo Olympics Dream
  • Sushila Likmabam: Olympics Dream: Gallery