Boosting Chicken Health with Oregano Oil and Probiotics

Jim Crocker
24th March, 2024

Boosting Chicken Health with Oregano Oil and Probiotics

Image Source: KATRIN BOLOVTSOVA (photographer)

Key Findings

  • In an Egyptian study, chickens fed with oregano oil or probiotics showed improved growth and health
  • These additives increased chickens' weight and improved feed efficiency
  • Chickens' immune systems were stronger, with better blood parameters and gut health
In recent years, the poultry industry has been exploring alternatives to antibiotics due to the rising concern over antibiotic resistance. Researchers from Suez Canal University have conducted a study[1] to evaluate the effects of two natural feed additives on the growth and immune response of chickens, with promising results that could lead to healthier poultry production practices. The study involved 150 male broiler chicks divided into three groups. The first group was fed a standard diet without any supplements, serving as the control. The other two groups received diets supplemented either with oregano essential oil (OEO) or Bacillus subtilis, a probiotic bacteria, for 28 days. The researchers monitored the chicks' growth performance and conducted various tests to assess their immune functions. The results were significant. Both the OEO and B. subtilis groups showed improved growth, with increased weight gain and a reduced feed conversion ratio (FCR)—a measure of an animal's efficiency in converting feed into body weight. This suggests that both additives could be effective in promoting better growth rates in poultry, similar to the benefits seen with traditional antibiotics. From an immunological perspective, the additives also enhanced the chickens' immune systems. Blood tests revealed an increase in hematological parameters, indicating better overall health. The phagocytic activity—where immune cells engulf and destroy pathogens—was significantly higher in the treated groups, with B. subtilis showing a stronger effect. Lymphocyte proliferation, a marker of the body's ability to mount an immune response, was notably increased in the OEO group. Furthermore, both additives led to higher serum antibody titers, which are indicative of a robust immune defense against infections. The study also included histological examinations of the chickens' intestines. These assessments showed that the additives had a positive impact on the intestinal structure, with an increase in villi length, width, and crypt depth, as well as a better villus-to-crypt ratio. Healthy intestinal morphology is crucial for nutrient absorption and overall well-being in chickens. The findings of this study are supported by earlier research that has shown the potential of natural products in promoting animal health. For instance, a study on the effects of dietary oregano essential oil on broilers[2] found similar improvements in growth performance and antioxidant status. The use of essential oils like oregano has also been linked to enhanced microbial balance in the gut, which is critical for nutrient absorption and immunity. Furthermore, the benefits of Bacillus subtilis as a probiotic were previously highlighted in a study involving Japanese quails[3], which showed improved antioxidative status and digestive enzyme activities with the inclusion of B. subtilis spores in their diet. This aligns with the current study's findings, suggesting that probiotics can play a significant role in enhancing growth and health in poultry. These studies collectively underscore the potential of natural feed additives as alternatives to antibiotics in poultry farming. The use of such additives could help mitigate the issue of antibiotic resistance, ensuring sustainable and healthy poultry production. The research from Suez Canal University adds to the growing body of evidence that natural substances like OEO and probiotics not only improve growth performance but also bolster the immune system of chickens, making them a viable option for poultry nutrition and health management strategies.

HealthBiotechAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Enhancing effect of oregano essential oil and Bacillus subtilis on broiler immune function, intestinal morphology and growth performance.

Published 22nd March, 2024

Related Studies

2) Effects of oregano essential oil as an antibiotic growth promoter alternative on growth performance, antioxidant status, and intestinal health of broilers.

3) Effect of dietary supplementation of Bacillus subtilis spores on growth performance, oxidative status, and digestive enzyme activities in Japanese quail birds.

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