Phytogenic feed additives, commonly defined as plant-based feed additives or botanicals, represent a group of natural substances used in animal nutrition. These substances are derived from herbs, spices, other plants and their extracts.

Delacon defines phytogenics as standardized mixtures of herbs, spices, other plants and their extracts with proven efficacy.

Sometimes, the term “essential oils” is synonymously used to phytogenics. However, essential oils represent only one substance group in the phytogenic universe.

Besides essential oils, tannins, mucilages, flavonoids, saponins, bitter substances and pungent substances complete the phytogenic universe.

Phytogenics can be successfully implemented in conventional, AGP-free or antibiotic-free nutrition programs. The first step for determining a feeding strategy is to evaluate the goals for production and desired benefits of inclusion of a phytogenic feed additive, then consider the modes of action of the products. Phytogenics offer complex modes of action that can support growth performance, facilitate nutrient digestibility and support intestinal health.

The use of phytogenics bears no risk of resistance development due to a function called quorum sensing inhibition, which helps reduce the virulence of bacteria, rather than killing them. Therefore, no rotation of products is necessary.

Naturally, the duration of phytogenic product inclusion will depend on the goal for production and beneficial effects calculated with consideration to a cost and benefits balance. Feeding phytogenic products with broad efficacy and proven effects is recommended during the entire growth period.

At Delacon, we do not use essential oils alone. First, not every essential oil has anticoccidial effects. Second, the effects of combining essential oils with other phytogenic ingredients, which may have anti-inflammatory effects or support immune function, are generally greater than the effects of a single ingredient. Combination products offer synergistic effects due to having multiple modes of action.

As active substances in plants have natural variation, strict quality management processes must be employed to ensure consistent phytogenic product quality.

All of the sources of the individual phytogenic compounds have GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status. There is no safety risk, even for combinations of ingredients. Beyond GRAS status, combinations are tested first in tissue culture models to confirm there are no antagonistic effects in animals. Zootechnical registration of a phytogenic product is another validation of safety along the feed-to-food chain.