Herbs and Herbal Supplements, a Novel Nutritional Approach in Animal Nutrition

Document Type: Review Article


Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Sultan Qaboos University, Al-Koud, Sultanate, Oman


Livestock are an integral part of the agriculture sector and encompass a great impact on the national economy. An eco-friendly alternative to enhance production, prevent and treat disease conditions of animal is a great challenge for animal nutritionists. Keeping farm animals healthy is necessary to obtain healthy animal products. The use of naturally occurring compounds like herbs, herbal preparations and other botanicals are preferred over chemical compounds for enhancement of overall animal health and to satisfy consumer concerns as well. As herbal feed additives may be used drug (finely divided dry medicinal herbal raw materials), herbal extracts or herbal isolate (e.g. essential oil). Herbal drug is a whole or cut up, dry (occasionally raw) part of a plant, algae, fungi or lichen which is used for its medicinal properties. Herbs enhance and add flavors in animal feed and can therefore influence eating patterns, secretion of digestive fluids and total feed intake. The primary site of activity is the digestive tract. Due to the wide variety of active components, different herbs and spices affect digestion processes differently. Herbs, spices and their mixtures are also recognized as anti-inflammatory agents, and also act as antioxidants. Several in-vitro experiments have proved certain plant extract exhibit strong antimicrobial activity against Gram− and Gram+ bacteria. Herbs and their preparation have an affirmative impact on feed intake, growth, meat, milkand egg production. They also have known to enhance the quality and stability of animal products.


Abascal K. and Yarnell E. (2008). Botanical Galactagogues, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

Ahmed S. (2010). In-vitro effects of aqueous extract of garlic (Allium sativum) and onion (Allium sepa) on Trichomonas vaginalis. Parasitolog. Unit. J. 3, 45-54.

Ahmed A.A., Bassuony N.I., Awad E.S., Aiad A.M. and Mohamed S.A. (2009). Adding natural juice of vegetables and fruitage to ruminant diets (B) nutrients utilization, microbial safety and immunity, effect of diets supplemented with lemon, onion and garlic juice fed to growing buffalo calves. World J. Agric.Sci. 5 (4), 456-465.

Al Kassie G.A. (2009). Influence of two plant extracts derived from Thyme and Cinnamon onbroiler performance. Pakistan Vet. J. 29, 169-173

Al Kirshi R.A., Alimon A.R., Zulkifli I., Sazili A.O. and Zahari M.W. (2009). The chemical composition and nutritive value of mulberry leaf as a protein source in poultry diets. Pp. 98-102 in Proc. 1st Int. Seminar Anim. Indust., Bogor Agricultural University, Bogor, Indonesia.

Albercht R.M. (1979). Macrophages in the immune response. Pp. 81-91 in Immunologic Tolerance and Macrophage Function. P. Baram, J. Battisto and C. Pierce, (Eds). Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Ali M.S., Saleem M., Ahmad W., Parvez M. and Yamdagni R. (2002). A chlorinated monoterpene ketone, acylated b-sitosterol glycosidesand a flavanone glycoside from Mentha longigolia (Lamiaceae). Phytochemistry. 59, 889-895.

Alimon A.R. (2009). Herbs and herbals in animal nutrition. Pp. 13 in Proc.1st Int. Seminar Anim. Indust. Faculty of Animal Science, Bogor Agricultural University,

Allen P.C., Lydon J. and Danforth H.D. (1997). Effects of components of Artemisia annua on coccidian infections in chickens. Poult. Sci. 76, 1156-1163.

Al-Rofaai A., Rahman W.A., Sulaiman S.F., Yahaya Z.S. (2012). In vitroactivity of neem (Azadirachta indica) and cassava (Manihot esculenta) on three pre-parasitic stages of susceptible and resistant strains of Teladorsagia (Ostertagia) circumcincta. Vet. Parasitol. 3, 188(1-2): 85-92.

Allard J., Kurian R., Aghdassi E., Muggli R. and Royall D. (1997). Lipid peroxidation during n-3 fatty acid and vitamin E supplementation in humans. Lipids. 32, 535-541.

Ando S., Nishida T., IshidaM., Kochi Y., Kami A. and Se S. (2001). Transmission of herb essential oil to milk and change of milk flavor by feeding dried herbs to lactating cows (in Japanese). Nippon Shokuhin Kagaku Kogaku Kaishi. 48,142-145.

Anadon A. (2006). The EU ban of antibiotics as feed additives: alternatives and consumer safety. J.Vet. Pharmacolo. Ther. 29, 41-44.

Anjaria J.V. and Gupta I. (1967). Studies on lactogenic property of Leptadenia reticulata (Jivanti) and leptaden tablets in goats, sheep, cows and buffaloes. Indian Vet. J. 44, 967-974.

Arora V.P. (1989). The effect of Galog on milk production. Pashudhan, 4, 4-5.

Aurousseau B. (2002). Oxygen radicals in Farm animals. Physiological effects and consequences on animal products. INRA Prod. Anim. 15, 67-82.

Bakhiet A. O. and Adam S. E. I. (1995). Therapeutic utility, constituents and toxicity of some medicinal plants: a review. Veter. Human. Toxicol. 37, 255-258.

Baratta M.T., Dorman H.J.D., Deans S.G., Biondi D.M. and Ruberto G. (1998). Chemical composition, antimicrobial and antioxidative activity of laurel, sage, rosemary, oregano and coriander essentials oils. The J. Essent. Oil Res. 10, 618-627.

Barry T.N. and McNabb W.C. (1999). The implications of considered tannins on the nutritive value and temperature forage fed to ruminants. Bri. J. Nut. 81, 263-272.

Benchaar C., Petit H.V., Berthiaume R., Ouellet D.R., Chiquette J. and Chouinard P.Y. (2007). Effects of essential oils on digestion, ruminal fermentation, rumen microbial populations, milk production, and milk composition in dairy cows fed alfalfa silage or corn silage. J. Dairy Sci. 90, 886-897.

Beauchemin K.A. and McGinn S.M. (2006). Methane emissions from beef cattle: Effects of fumaric acid, essential oil, and canola oil. J. Anim. Sci. 84, 1489-1496.

Bhatt N. (2000). Efficacy of Herbal Drugs in Rumen Metabolism, Growth and Milk Production in Crossbred Cattle. G.B. Pant university of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, Uttranchal India.

Bhatt N., Singh M. and Ali A. (2009). Effect of feeding herbal preparations on milk yield and its correlation with rumen parameters in crossbred cows. Int. J. Agric. Biol. 195, 721-726.

Botsoglou N.A., Fletouris D.J., Florou-Paneri P., Christaki E. and Spais A.B. (2003a). Inhibition of lipid oxidation in long-termfrozen stored chicken meat by dietary oregano essential oil and [alpha]-tocopheryl acetate supplementation. Food Res. Int. 36, 207-213.

Botsoglou N.A., Grigoropoulou S.H., Botsoglou E., Govaris A. and Papageorgiou G. (2003b). The effects of dietary oregano essential oil and [alpha]-tocopheryl acetate on lipid oxidation in raw and cooked turkey during refrigerated storage. Meat Sci. 65, 1193–1200.

Bown D. (1997). Encyclopedia of Herbs Andtheir Uses. Dorling Kindersley Publishing, London, UK.

Bravo L. (1998). Polyphenols: chemistry, dietary sources, metabolism, and nutritional significance. Nutr. Rev. 56, 317-333.

Barhane M. and Singh V.P. (2002). Effect of feeding indigenous galactopoietics feed supplements on milk production in crossbred cows. Ind. J. Anim. Sci. 72(7), 609-611.

Bunglavan S.J., Valli C., Ramachandran M. and Balakrishnan, B. (2010). Effect of supplementation of herbal extracts on methanogenesis in ruminants. Lives. Res. Rural Dev. 22(11), 112-123

Burt S. (2004). Essential oils: their antibacterial properties and potential applications in foods – a review. Int. J. Food Microbiol. 94, 223-253.

Butter N.L., Dawson J.M. and Buttery P.J. (1999). Effect of dietary tannins of ruminants. Pp. 51–70 in: Secondary Plant Products. J.C. Caygill and I. Mueller-Harvey, (Eds.). Nottingham, NottinghamUniversity Press.

Busquet M., Calsamiglia S., Ferret A., Carro M.D.and Kamel, C. (2005). Effect of garlic oil and four of its compounds on rumen microbial fermentation. J. Dairy Sci. 88, 4393-4404.

Çabuk M., Bozkurt M., Alçiçek A., Akba Y. and Küçükyýlmaz K. (2006). Effect of a herbal essential oil mixture on growth and internal organ weight of broilers from young and old breeder flocks. South African J. Anim. Sci. 36, 135-141.

Calsamiglia S., Busquet M., Cardozo P.W., Castillejos L. and Ferret A. (2007). Invited review: essential oil as modifiers of rumen microbial fermentation. J. Dairy sci. 90, 2580-2595.

Camara C.C., Nascimento N.R., Macedo-Filho C.L., Almeida F.B. and Fonteles M.C. (2003). Antispasmodic effect of the essential oil of Plectranthus barbatus and some major constituents on the guinea-pig ileum. Planta Med. 69, 1080-1085.

Cardozo P.W., Calsamiglia S., Ferret A. and Kamel C. (2006). Effects of alfalfa extract, anise, capsicum, and a mixture of cinnamaldehyde and eugenol on ruminal fermentation and protein degradation in beef heifers fed a high-concentrate diet. J. Anim. Sci. 84, 2801-2808.

Castillo M., Martín-Orúe S.M., Roca M., Manzanilla E.G., Ba-diola I., Perez J.F. and Gasa J. (2006). The response of gastroin -testinal microbiota to avilamycin, butyrate, and plant extracts in early-weaned pigs. J. Anim. Sci. 84, 2725–2734.

Castillejos L., Calsamiglia S., Ferret A. and Losa R. (2005). Effect of a specific blend of essential oil compounds and the type of diet on rumen microbial fermentation and nutrient flow from a continuous culture system. Anim. Feed Sci. Tech. 119, 29-41.

CastillejosL., Calsamiglia S. and Ferret, A. (2007). Effect of essential oil active compounds on rumen microbial fermentation and nutrient flow in in-vitro system. J Dairy Sci. 89, 2649-2658.

Catoni C., Peters A. and Schaefer H.M. (2008). Life history trade-offs are influenced by the diversity, availability and interactions of dietary antioxidants. Animal Behaviour. 76, 1107-1119.

Celi P. and Raadsma H.W. (2009). The effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguarensis) supplementation on the productive performance of lambs. Pp. 804-805. in Proc. 11th Int. Symp. Rumin. Physiol., Clermont-Ferrand, France.

CeliP. and Raadsma H.W. (2010). The effects of Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguarensis) supplementation on the productive performance of lactating dairy cows. Ani. Pro. Sci. 50, 339-344.

Ćetković G.S., Djilas S.M., Canadanovic-Brunet J.M. and Tumbas V.T. (2004). Antioxidant properties of marigold extracts. Food Res. Int. 37, 643-650.

Chaucheyras F., Fonty G., Bertin G. and Gouet,P. (1995). Effect of Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells on zoospore, germination, growth and cellulolytic activity of the rumen anaerobic        fungus Neocallimastix frontalis MCH3. Curr. Microbiol. 31, 201-205.

Chaudiere J. and Ferrari-Iliou R. (1999). Intracellular antioxidants: from chemical to biochemical mechanisms. Food Chem. Toxicol.. 37, 949-62.

Cheel J., Theoduloz C., Rodriguez J. and Schmeda-Hirschmann G. (2005). Free radical scavengers and antioxidants from Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf.). J. Agric. Food Chem. 53, 2511-2517.

Chen Y.G., Sun Y.G., Huang D.P. and Wang D.L. (2009). Effect of Chinese medicine herbal synbiotics on production capability and apparent digestibil ity of feed on weaned piglets. J. Domest. Anim. Ecolo. 30, 39-40.

Chesson A., StewartC.S. and Wallace R.J. (1982). Influence of plant phenolic acids on growth and cellulolytic activity of rumen bacteria. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 44, 597-603.

Cole N.A. and Todd R.W. (2008). Opportunities to enhance performance and efficiency through nutrient synchrony in concentrate–fed ruminants. J. Anim. Sci. 86, 318-333.

Cowan M.M. (1999). Plant products as antimicrobial agents. Clin. Microbiol. Rev. 12, 564-582.

Craig W.J. (1999). Health-promoting properties of common herbs. Am. J. Clin. Nut. 70, 491-499.

Craig W.J. (2001). Herbal remedies that promote health and prevent disease. Pp. 179-204. in: Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs in Health Promotion. R.R. Watson, (Ed.). Florida, CRC Press, Boca Raton.

Davis S.R. (2005). An overview of the antifungal properties of allicin and its breakdown   products-the possibility of a safe and effective antifungal prophylactic. Mycoses. 48(2), 95-100.

Deckert V., DesrumauxC., Athias A., Duverneuil L., Palleau V., Gambert P., Masson D. and Lagrost L. (2002). Prevention of LDL-tocopherol consumption, cholesterol oxidation, and vascular endothelium dysfunction by polyphenolic compounds from red wine.Atherosclerosis. 165, 41-50.

Delgado-Vargas F. (1997). Pigments of the flower cempxuchitl (Tagetes erecta). Physiochemical characterization, processing, and pigmenting efficiency. Ph.D. Thesis. National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico City, Mexico.

Demir E., Sarica S., Ozcan M.A. and Swemez M. (2003). The use of natural feed additives as alternatives for an antibiotic growth promoter in broiler diets. Br. Poult. Sci. 44, 44-45.

De Rosa M., Gambacorta A. and Gliozzi. (1986). Structure, biosynthesis and physic-chemical properties or archaebacterial lipids. Microb. Rev. 50, 70-80.

Dikshit A. and Husain A. (1984). Antifungal action of some essential oils against animal pathogens. Fitoterapia. 7, 171-176.

Dorman H.J.D. and Deans S.G. (2000). Antimicrobial agents from plants: antibacterial activity of plant volatile oils. J. Appl. Microbiol. 88: 308-316.

Dorman H.J.D., Kosar M., Kahlos K., Holm Y. and Hiltunen R. (2003). Antioxidant properties and composition of aqueous extractsfrom Mentha species, hybrids, varieties, and cultivars. J. Agric. Food Che. 51, 4563-4569.

Duthie H.L. (1981). The effect of peppermint oil on colonic motility in man. Surg. Res. Soc. Abstr. 68, 820-825.

El-Astal Z. (2004). The inhibitory action of aqueous garlic extract on the growth of certain pathogenic bacteria. Eur. Food Res. Tech. 218(5), 460-464.

Erasmus L.J., Robinson P.H., Ahmadi A., Hinders R. and Garrett J.E. (2005). Influence of prepartum and postpartum  supplementation of  a yeast culture and monensin, or both on ruminal fermentation and performsnce of multiparous cows. Ani Feed Sci Tech. 145, 219-239.

Esparza-Borges H. and Ortiz-Márquez A. (1996). Therapeutic efficacy of plant extracts in the treatment of bovine endometritis. Acta Horticulturae (ISHS), 426, 39-46.

Evans J.D. and Martin S.A. (2000). Effects of thymol on ruminal microorganisms. Curr. Microbiol. 41, 336-340.

Fasseas M.K., Mountzouris K.C., Tarantilis P.A., Polissiou M. and Zervas G. (2008). Antioxidant activity in meat treated withoregano and sage essential oils. Food Che. 106, 1188-1194.

Fang R.J., Tang S. X. and Li T.J. (2000). Effects of Chinese herbal medicine compound additives on growth and substance metabolism in broiler. China Feed. 7, 7-11.

Farag R.S., Daw Z.Y. and Abo-Raya S.H. (1989b). Influence of some essential oils on Aspergillus parasiticus growth and aflatoxins production in a synthetic medium, J. food Sci. 54, 74-67.

Favier A. (1997). Oxidative stress: value of its demonstration in medical biology and problems posed by the choice of a marker. Ann. Biol. Clin. 55, 9-16.

Feix S., Faixová Z., Plachá1I. and Koppel J. (2009). Effect of Cinnamomum zeylanicum Essential Oil on Antioxidative Status in Broiler Chickens. Acta Vet. Brno. 78, 411-417.

Florou-Paneri P., Christaki E., Giannenas I., Papazahariadou M., Botsoglou N.A., Spais A.B. (2004). Effect of dietary olympus tea (Sideritis scardica) supplementation on performance of chickens challenged with Eimeria tenella. J. Anim. Feed Sci. 13, 301-311.

Fuhrmann H. and Sallmann H.P. (1999). Amount and type of unsaturated aldehydes in chicken plasma and tissues depend more on dietary lipids than on vitamin E status. Lipid. 34, 253-254.

Gabay M.P. (2002). Galactagogues: medication that induce lactation. J. Hum. Lac. 18, 274-279.

Gebert S., Stahel F., Messikommer R. and Wenk C. (1999). Rhubarb als alternative zu antimikrobiellen lesitungsförderern (AML) im ferkel- und broiler futter. Pp. 165-166 in: Beitrag derTierernaehrung zur Besonderheit der CH-Produkte. Eds. Sutter, F., Wenk, C., Kreuzer, M. and Hrsg., Schriftenreihe aus dem Institut fuer Nutztierwissenshaften, Ernaehrung-Produkte-Umwelt, ETH Zürich.

Ghalyanchi Langeroudi A., Kiaei S.M.M., Modirsanei M., Mansour B. and Shojaie Estabragh. (2008). Comparison of chemical and biological growth promoter with two herbal natural feed additives on broiler chick performance. J. Anim. Vet. Adv. 5, 570-574.

Ghosh S., Mehta R.M., Sirohi S.K. and Roy B. (2010). The effect of dietary garlic supplementation on body weight gain,feed intake, feed conversion efficiency, faecal score, faecal coliform count and feeding cost in crossbred dairy calves. Trop. Anim. Health  Prod. 42, 961-968.

Giannenas I.A., Florou-Paneri P., Botsoglou N.A., Christaki E. and Spais A.B. (2005). Effect of supplementing feed with oregano and/or tocopheryl acetate on growth of broiler chickens and oxidative stability of meat. J. Anim. Feed Sci. 14, 521-535.

Gill C. (2000). Botanical feed additives. Feed. Int. 21, 14-17.

Grzanna R., Lindmark L. and Frondoza C.G. (2005). Gingeran herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions. J. Med. Food. 8(2), 125-132.

Greathead H. (2003). Plants and plants extracts for improving animal productivity. Proc. Nutr. Soci. 62: 279-290.

Guo A.W., Zhou J.L., Zhu J., Deng T.Q., Huang F. and Liu B. (2008). Effects of Chinese herbals medicine compound substi tuting antibiotics on performance and substance metabolism in broilers. Acta Agric. Univ. Jiangxiensis. 36, 978-980.

Halliwell B., Aeschbach R., Löliger J. and Aruoma O.I. (1995). The characterization of antioxidants. Food Chem. Toxicol. 33, 601–617.

Harnafi H. and Amrani S. (2007). Flaveniods as potent phytochemicals in cardiovascular diseases prevention. Pharmac. Rev. 1, 193-202.

Harris E.D. (1992). Regulation of antioxidant enzymes. Faseb J. 6, 2675-2683.

Hart K.J., Girdwood S.E., Taylor S., Yanez-Ruiz D.R. and Newbold C.J. (2006).Effect of allicin on fermentation and microbial populations in the rumen simulating fermentor Rusitec. Reprod. Nutr. Develop. 46, 97-115.

Hernandez F., Madrid J., Garcia V., Orengo J. and Megias M.D. (2004). Influence of tow plant extracts on broiler performance, digestibility, and digestive organ size. Poult. Sci. 83, 169-174.

Hess H.D., Monsalve L.M., Lascano C.E., Carulla J.E., Diaz T.E., Kreuzer M. (2003a). Supplementation of a tropical grass diet with forage legumes and Sapindus saponaria fruits: effects on in vitro ruminal nitrogen turnover and methanogenesis. Australian J. Agric. Res. 54, 703-713.

Hills J.M. and Aaronson P.I. (1991). The mechanism of action of peppermint oil on gastrointestinal smooth muscle. An analysis using patch clamp electrophysiology and isolated tissue pharmacology in rabbit and guinea pig. Gastroenterology. 101, 55-65.

Hosoda K., Kuramoto K., Eruden B., Nishida T. and Shioya S. (2006). The effects of three herbs as feed supplements on blood metabolites, hormones, antioxidant activity, igg concentration, and ruminal fermentation in Holstein steers. Asian-australs J. Anim. Sci. 19, 35-41.

Hosoda K., Nishida T., Park W.Y. and Eruden B. (2005). Influence of Mentha×piperita L. (Peppermint) supplementation on nutrient digestibility and energy metabolism in lactating dairy cows. Asian-australs J. Anim. Sci. 18, 1721-1726.

Hristov A.N., Ivan M., Neill L. and Mcallister T.A. (2003) Evaluation of several potential bioactive agents for reducing protozoal activity in vitro. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 105, 163-184.

Imai H., Osawa K., Yasuda H., HamashimaH., Arai T. and Sasatsu M.( 2001). Inhibition by the essential oils of peppermint and spearmint of the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Microbios 106, 31-39.

Jacobsen C., Let M.B., Nielsen N.S. and Meyer A.S. (2008). Antioxidant strategies for preventing oxidative flavour deterioration of foods enriched with n-3 polyunsaturated lipids: a comparative evaluation. Trend. Food Sci. Technol. 19, 76-93.

Jackson P., Rook J.A.F. and Towas K.C. (1971). Influence of the physical form of barley grain and barley straw diet on nitrogen metabolism in sheep. J. Dairy Res. 38, 33-42.

Jakhar G. (1995). Effect of Ruchamax feeding on growth promotion in piglets. Int. Vet. Med. J.19(2), 158-160.

Jamroz D., Orda J., Kamel C., Williczkiewicz A., Wertelecki T. and Skorupin’Ska J.( 2003). The influence of phytogenic extract on performance, nutrients digestibility, carcass characteristic and gut microbial status in broiler chickens. J. Anim. Feed Sci. 12(3),583-596.

Jang A., Liu X.D., Shin M.H., Lee B.D., Lee S.K., Lee J.H. and Jo C. ( 2009). Antioxidative potential of raw breast meat from broiler chicks fed a dietary medicinal herb extract mix. Poul. Sci. 87, 2382-2389.

Janssen A.M. (1989). Antimicrobial Activities of Essential Oils. A Pharmacognostical Study Dissertation, Rijksuniversiteit Leiden.

Janz J.A.M., Morel P.C.H., Wilkinson B.H.P. and Purchas R.W. (2007). Preliminary investigation of the effects of low-leveldietary inclusion of fragrant essential oils and oleoresins on pig performance and pork quality. Meat Sci. 75, 350-355.

Jugl-Chizzola M., Ungerhofer E., Gabler C., Hagmüller W.,Chizzola R., Zitterl-Eglseer K. and Franz C.( 2006). Testing of the palatability of Thymus vulgaris L. and Origanum vulgare L. as flavouring feed addititve for weaner pigs on the basis of a choice experiment. Berli