Benefits of phytogenics for stakeholders along the entire feed to food chain

Anne Oberdorf

4 minutes | 6. October 2018
Degree of technical knowledge

4 reasons to grow with the benefits of phytogenics


From farm to fork,

four key benefits power the increasing adoption of phytogenics, aka phytogenic feed additives (PFAs):

  1. Improves animal health and performance.
  2. Uses natural – not chemically created – ingredients.
  3. Supports judicious use of antibiotics.
  4. Protects the environment.

1. Improves animal health and performance

“All disease begins in the gut” – a statement made by Hippocrates over two thousand years ago. Therefore, boosting gut health in livestock fosters improved productivity. Just like an athlete or student, when animals feel better, they perform better – Gut diseases detract performance.

Fact box

When dealing with life-threatening illnesses, PFAs act as a first line of defense for improving gut health in monogastrics:


  • By reducing cell apoptosis and improving enterocyte maturation, phytogenic additives help to enhance intestinal barrier integrity.
  • Quorum sensing inhibition reduces bacterial attachment to the intestinal wall and toxin production.
  • Additives help to improve phagocytic activity and humoral defense in the intestinal lumen, which boosts immunity.
Benefits of phytogenics in livestock production© Delacon

Thus, with proper formulation, PFAs reduce microbiota pathogenicity, improve enterocyte maturation and increase enzyme production and nutrient transport across the intestine.

PFAs also increase amino acid and nutrient availability, yielding higher-performing animals via improved feed efficiency. PFAs also lower intestinal inflammation, which improves gut health and decreases energy expenditure.

Improving nutrient utilization and optimizing feed conversion is a powerful strategy to boost production and profitability. With PFAs’ bitter and pungent substances working in synergy, they improve nutrient digestibility. Ultimately, PFAs help lower production costs per produced egg or kilogram/pound of meat.

With significant advances in understanding the modes of action of phytogenic compounds and how to formulate advanced phytogenic products, researchers can now measure the influence of these compounds on a cellular and genetic level. PFA efficacy can be validated, verified and repeated. For example, scientists can determine effects on microbiota and gene expression in various tissues. Plus, PFA researchers know which specific phytogenic substances influence nutrient transport mechanisms in the intestinal mucosa.

2. Uses natural, not chemically created, ingredients

Admittedly, some food and feed marketers stretch the meaning of “natural,” defined as nothing artificial or synthetic has been added. With PFAs, the meaning of natural is not stretched at all. PFAs comprise a wide range of plants, like herbs and spices, and plant-derived products, including essential oils and oleoresins that come from 100-plus different plant oils, extracts and tinctures.

The power of Delacon’s PFAs stem from synergistic effects of all plant agents. It is often said that synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. We can harness synergies that exist by using natural phytogenic compounds

Benefits of phytogenics in livestock production© Delacon
Quilaja bark© Delacon

3. Supports judicious use of antibiotics

For several years, livestock producers fed antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) to protect animal health and boost performance. With evidence of antimicrobial resistance rising, watchful eyes demanded “no antibiotics ever.” In response, several countries banned/restricted AGPs.

With a concern for animal health and welfare, productivity and profitability, livestock producers sought tools to replace AGPs. Many have considered and fed PFAs, which offer a natural approach to antibiotic reduction.

PFAs also enhance feed and food safety with no concern of antimicrobial resistance or drug residue. Herb and spice extracts, for example, exert antibacterial activity against foodborne pathogens. Essential oils also possess antibacterial properties.

4. Helps protect the environment

In keeping with the theme of doing more with less, PFAs also reduce the poultry industry’s carbon footprint via reduced ammonia, methane and greenhouse gas emissions. On average, studies show feeding PFAs yields of 32 percent reduction in ammonia emissions in poultry and up to 10 percent reduction in methane emissions in ruminants. From raw materials to end products, research demonstrates a 5 percent carbon footprint reduction in egg production when feeding PFAs. That’s a significant impact for a feed additive.

Furthermore, PFAs foster improved shelf life and therefore potentially reduce food waste. Dietary supplementation of oregano, rosemary and sage supported positive effects on poultry and pork meat, and egg shelf life.

So, whether it’s animal health and performance, natural ingredients, judicious drug use or environmental protection, PFAs can do it all. These tenets embrace sustainability – a vital principle today and in the future – for livestock, producers and consumers.


Carbon footprint reduction


Reduction in methane emissions in ruminants


Reduction in ammonia emissions in poultry

What beneficial effects have you experienced with phytogenics? Let us know in the comment section below.