Adding herbs to sheep feed to produce a natural antimicrobial effect – EPI Agri

26 Aug 2017

Adding a touch of spice to improve animal health

In Greece, a project has found that adding aromatic plants such as oregano, sage and rosemary to sheep feed has a number of benefits. The sheep are healthier and the anti-oxidant properties of the meat produced is improved, giving it a longer shelf life.

Greece is one of Europe’s biggest producers of sheep and goat meat. According to EU statistics, Greece, UK, Spain, and France collectively represent 68% of the EU’s total production.

Dr. Evdokia Krystallidou told us: “The increasing number of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animal and human populations from the use of antibiotics as an ingredient in animal feeds has raised the awareness on the need to find alternatives to antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) to maintain health and performance.”

In order to increase both sustainability and productivity, farmers are constantly looking for innovative techniques. Dr. Krystallidou said “aromatic plants and their extracts have considerable potential to fulfil such demands.”

Oregano is already used in poultry feed for its antibiotic properties and scientists in Greece decided to analyse the benefits of aromatic plants for sheep. The agricultural research department of the Hellenic agricultural organisation (DEMETER) and the animal research institute (ARI) in Greece have been running a project testing the effects of combinations of oregano (Origanum vulgare L.), sage (Salvia officinalis L.) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) added to sheep feed. These plants are widely grown in Mediterranean countries.


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