Exploring Natural Poultry Feed Additives in the Horn of Africa: A Sustainable Approach to Antibiotic Replacement


Introduction: The escalating challenge of antimicrobial resistance due to the widespread use of antimicrobials in poultry farming has emerged as a critical public health concern. To counteract this issue, researchers are now investigating the potential of natural alternatives, specifically plant-based feed additives, to maintain poultry health and productivity. This article delves into a noteworthy project conducted by Nottingham Trent University in collaboration with Ethiopian institutions, aimed at exploring the feasibility of using indigenous plant species as substitutes for antibiotics in poultry diets.

The Need for Natural Alternatives: The adverse consequences of antimicrobial resistance necessitate a shift towards sustainable practices in poultry farming. Excessive use of antibiotics not only poses a threat to public health but also leads to residues in poultry products. To address this, the research focuses on identifying plants with medicinal properties that are not only effective but also safe for both avian species and consumers.

Aromatic Plants as Feed Additives: Certain aromatic plants have demonstrated promising results as natural feed additives. Seed grape oil, for instance, acts as a natural antioxidant in broilers, mitigating the need for synthetic alternatives. The Ashwagandha root has shown positive effects on the immune system in laying hens, highlighting its potential as a medicinal feed additive. Additionally, the dandelion has been found to enhance chicken innate immunity, showcasing its utility in disease prevention.

Economic Implications in Poorer Regions: In regions where the use of commercially extracted phytogenic compounds is financially burdensome, incorporating aromatic plants as feed additives becomes a cost-effective solution. This approach is particularly beneficial for poultry diets in economically challenged areas, offering a sustainable alternative to expensive in-feed antibiotics.

The Ethiopian Initiative: Nottingham Trent University’s project in collaboration with Ethiopian institutions seeks to explore the viability of indigenous plant species as replacements for antibiotics in poultry diets. Led by Dr. Ashraf Alkthib and supported by Dr. Metekia Tamiru and Dr. Jane Wamatu, the study aims to identify locally available and affordable plant species with antibiotic properties.

Insights from Previous Studies: Preliminary studies at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture poultry farm of Addis Ababa University focused on the antimicrobial and immune stimulatory effects of five herbs (thyme, mint, basil, rosemary, and lemongrass) at 1% inclusion in the basal broiler ration. Results indicated that rosemary and lemongrass exhibited the lowest E. Coli counts, with the highest Lactobacilli counts recorded in groups fed with these two herbs.

Future Implications: The ultimate goal of this research initiative is to replace antibiotics with locally sourced and cost-effective plant species in Ethiopian poultry diets. This shift not only addresses public health concerns but also has potential economic benefits by reducing production costs of poultry products for consumers in Ethiopia. Embracing sustainable and natural alternatives in poultry farming could pave the way for a healthier and economically viable future in the Horn of Africa.

Conclusion: As the world grapples with the challenges of antimicrobial resistance, exploring natural alternatives in poultry farming becomes imperative. The collaborative efforts between Nottingham Trent University and Ethiopian institutions exemplify a proactive approach towards sustainable and economically feasible solutions. By harnessing the medicinal properties of indigenous plants, this initiative aims to revolutionize poultry farming in the Horn of Africa, promoting both environmental and economic sustainability.


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