Because of growing consumer concern about the use of antimicrobials and the ban on most antibiotic feed additives in the European Union, there is increased interest in using alternatives to antimicrobials in poultry diets. Dried leaves of Artemisia annua have been used in Oriental medicine due to their antimicrobial activities. In the current study, the effect of including A. annua in broiler diets on hindgut and ceca pH, lipid oxidation products, and phenolic content of dark and white meat, and bird performance were investigated. A total of 96 broiler chicks were kept in 48 cages. Two cages with 2 birds per each cage are considered as 1 replicate, and there were 8 replications per treatment. The birds were fed corn-soy diets containing 0% (control), 2% (ART2), or 4% (ART4) dried A. annua leaves from d 14 through d 42. Cecal digesta pH was the lowest in birds fed the ART4 diet (P < 0.02), whereas the pH of ileal digesta was the lowest in ART2 (P < 0.01). Lipid oxidation products measured as TBA reactive substances (TBARS) were lower in the breast and thigh muscle of birds fed ART2 and ART4 diets compared with the control (P < 0.0001). No difference was found in total fat content of the liver, abdominal fat pads, or breast or thigh muscle content (P > 0.05). Artemisia annua addition did not affect final BW, weight gain, feed consumption, carcass weight, or feed:gain. No difference was observed in the relative weight of liver, abdominal fat, spleen, or heart tissue. Gastric acidity is protective against intestinal colonization and translocation of pathogenic bacteria. Therefore, gut pH and muscle tissue TBARS reduction in birds fed ART2 and ART4 suggest that A. annua may prove useful as a natural phytogenic feed additive with antioxidant potential that could be incorporated into poultry diets.
- Artemisia annua
- Thiobarbituric acid reactive substance