Encapsulated Essential Oil for Broiler productions
Necrotic enteritis (NE) is an economically important poultry disease caused by C. perfringens that has traditionally been controlled by prophylactic use of antibiotics in feed. Essential oils (EO) are volatile components from plants that have been extensively studied and used in a wide range of food systems for food preservation and extension of shelf life. EOs are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by FDA of the United States. In the past ten years, our group at Guelph Research and Development Center, AAFC has investigated the potential of EOs as an alternative to antibiotics in feed for food animal production. We identified some EOs that have strong antimicrobial activity towards bacterial pathogens (including S. Typhimurium and C. perfringens), but little inhibition to probiotic Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Our studies have demonstrated that EOs need to be protected for effective delivery of EOs to the target region of animal guts. We have developed encapsulation technologies with food ingredients as encapsulation materials for selected EOs, which can retain the high antimicrobial activity of EOs and be used for target delivery to the chicken gut. More importantly, the encapsulated EOs were shown as effective as in-feed antibiotics to reduce NE lesions, when tested in broilers that had been infected with C. perfringens or on a poultry farm where NE occurred naturally. Furthermore, we have successfully scaled up the encapsulation technology at AAFC’s pilot plant, which allows the production of a large amount of encapsulated essential oil products to be used on farms. The product produced has also been tested for stability during feed pelleting at the feed mills. The result demonstrated an excellent retention rate of essential oil after pelleting. In light of these results, our encapsulated EOs product appears to have a great potential in developing into an alternative to antibiotics to control NE disease in broiler production.