Essential Oils: Natural Supplements for High-quality Feeds
Due to the current emphasis on feed safety, animal scientists and feed technologists are fervently looking for safe feed and drug alternatives to optimize animal health and productivity. The use of essential oils and other plant extracts in animal nutrition and health has been the focus of such a never-ending search. The compound feed industry is now the beneficiary of intensive research on different essential oils found in nature.
WHAT ESSENTIAL OILS ARE
To fully understand their nutritional and health implications, it’s important to know first what essential oils are.
Essential oils-(EOs) are concentrated liquids containing volatile aromatic compound extracts from plants. The term “essential” is misleading because it does not mean that they are essential for nutrition or metabolism, nor are they oils in the sense of being lipids. They are volatile aromatic compounds from plant materials typically obtained by steam or water distillation or occasionally, by expression or solvent extraction.
Chemically, EOs are mixtures of molecules belonging to different classes of chemical compounds, the principal ones being alcohols, aldehydes, animes, esters, and terpenses. Their composition varies significantly due to great differences in the starting plant materials: plant hybrids, growing conditions, processing methods, and other factors.
Considered highly versatile and multifunctional natural supplements, EOs or plant extracts are being used as appetite stimulants, aroma, stimulants of saliva production, gastric and pancreatic juice production enhancers, and antioxidants.
One of the most unique feed additives in today’s compound feed industry is Kressens, a synergistic combination of essential oils in a lipidic matrix that ENCAP (a sister company of Industrial Tecnica Pecuaria, S.A.) manufactured to be used in animal feeds, providing an energy boost to the piglet, helping it fight disease, and maintaining its health status during the transition to weaning. Its energy-boosting action is manifested in two ways:
1. Promotes growth: Plant extracts, acting at a gastrointestinal tract level, prove the proliferation of beneficial microflora and the intestinal absorption.
2. Boosts energy: Lipidic matrix, preventing a negative energy balance, thus promoting an optimal health status in the animal. ,
Kressens contains essential oils of cassia and melaleuca, with demonstrated anti-microbial activity which promotes growth. Cassia (Cinnamomum aromaticum) is an evergreen tree native to southern China and Vietnam. Like its close relative Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Cassia is used primarily for its aromatic bark, which is used as a spice, and often called “cinnamon.” The buds are also used as spice, especially in India and Ancient Rome. The Cassia tree grows from 10-15 meters tall, has grayish bark and hard elongated leaves measuring 10-15 cm long, which have a decidedly reddish color when young.
Melaleuca, on the other hand, is a genus of plants in the myrtle family Myrtaceae. There are currently 236 species and all of which are thriving in Australia. About 230 species are endemic to Australia, the few remaining species thrive in Malaysia, Indonesia, New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and New Caledonia.
The species are shrubs and trees growing (depending on species) from 2-30 meters tall, often with flaky, exfoliating bark. The leaves are evergreen, alternately arranged, ovate to lanceolate, 125 cm long, and 0.5-7 cm broad, with an entire margin, dark green to gray-green in color. The flowers are produced in dense clusters along the stems and each has fine, small petals and a tight bundle of stamens. Flower color varies from white to pink, red, pale yellow or greenish. The fruit is a small capsule containing numerous minute seeds.
One well-known melaleuca, the Ti tree or tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), is notable for its essential oil which is both antifungal and antibiotic and safely usable for topical applications. This is produced on a commercial scale and marketed as tea tree oil:
The digestive tract of the newly weaned piglet is highly vulnerable because it is still in transition from milk consumption to solid feed. It has not adapted yet to the new nutrients present in compound feeds.
The lipidic matrix of Kressens is a combination of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) obtained by fractional distillation of palm kernel oil. MCFA is a source of readily available energy very efficient to compensate negative energy balances in young and susceptible animals.
Other important physiologic features of MCFA are as follows:
• MCFA begins to be absorbed at the stomach mucosa.
• MCFA are primarily absorbed in intestinal solutions and cell membranes and can be absorbed without formation of micelle particles (Odie, 1998). -
• MCFA enters the liver directly and rapidly via the portal vein. Guillot et al (1993) found peak concentrations of MCFA in portal blood within five minutes after infusing medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) in the duodenum of piglets.
• It is preferably used in the liver to obtain energy.
Piglets need Kressens for the following reasons:
• The piglet has few body reserves.
• Energy intake of the just weaned piglet is very low.
• Fat provides much more energy than carbohydrates and proteins.
When used in feeds, application of Kressens will result in:
• Better animal physiological condition
• Optimal health status
• Better feed conversion
• More vigorous piglets
• Higher homogeneity of the animals
USES OF KRESSENS
Kressens should be used:
• In weak piglets or piglets with low weight to get a better homogenization of the animals, and
• In piglets in general, to optimize sanitary status of the animals and to improve their metabolic efficiency, from a highly assimilated feed ingredient.
The inclusion rates of Kressens are as follows:
• Kressens P1.-5 to 3.0 kg/mt of feed
• Kressens L 1.0 to 2.0 kgs/mt of feed