Combination of herbal components (curcumin, carvacrol, thymol, cinnamaldehyde) in broiler chicken feed: Impacts on response parameters, performance, fatty acid profiles, meat quality and control of coccidia and bacteria.
The objective of this study was to determine whether curcumin and a commercial microencapsulated phytogenic supplement containing thymol, cinnamaldehyde and carvacrol in broiler chicken feed would improve health and meat quality (fatty acid profile), as well as to determine the coccidiostatic and bactericidal potential of the additives. The broiler chickens were divided into five groups: NC - negative control feed; PC - positive control; CU - with 50 mg/kg of curcumin, PHY - 100 mg/kg phytogenic; and PHY + CU, a combination of both additives at 50 mg/kg (curcumin) and 100 mg/kg (phytogenic). We observed significantly higher levels of total proteins associated with increased circulating globulins, as well as lower levels of uric acid, cholesterol and triglycerides in the PHY + CU group than in the NC. There were significantly fewer oocysts in birds supplemented with additives in the NC group on day 21; on day 35, the NC, PHY and PHY + CU groups had significantly lower counts than the PC and CU groups; however, at 44 days, the lowest counts were in PC group. The bacterial counts were significantly lower on day 21 in all groups that received additives than those of the control group; however, at 44 days, the bacterial and Escherichia coli counts in these groups were significantly higher than those of the control. Curcumin with or without phytogenic agent improved meat quality, with increased antioxidant levels and reduction of lipid peroxidation. There were significantly lower total saturated fatty acid levels and significantly greater monounsaturated/polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in broilers that consumed additives individually and in combination. The combination of additives significantly increased the crypt/villus ratio, a marker of improved intestinal health and performance. Additives potentiated their individual effects, suggesting they can replace conventional growth promoters without compromising health, intestinal mucosa or meat quality.