Heat stress causes serious physiological dysfunctions that result in a decline in animal performance and in a deterioration of overall health.
In an article that we published last year, we explained how the redirection of the blood flow towards the skin, in order to maintain the body temperature, causes a decrease in the supply of oxygen and nutrients in the internal organs (liver, intestines, kidneys, etc) called ischemia. Ischemia leads to oxidative stress and to the production of highly harmful oxidant compounds called ROS (reactive oxygen species), which are a type of free radicals derived from oxygen.
On the other hand, heat stress stimulates the release of corticosterone and catecholamines, initiating lipid peroxidation in cell membranes and causing an excessive production of free radicals (superoxide anion radicals, hydroxyl radicals, hydrogen peroxide and singlet oxygen).
The accumulation of ROS and free radicals leads to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the imbalance between the production of free radicals in the body and the ability to neutralize them with antioxidants. It damages many molecules such as DNA, fats and proteins, along with the cells and the tissues.
Oxidative stress impairs animal health and performance:
- Reduces feed intake
- Slows down growth and damages productivity in general
- Weakens the immune system
- Produces leaky gut
- Reduces fertility, especially of males
- Oxidizes the proteins and fats in the meat or eggs, deteriorating their quality, taste and shelf life
In order to prevent the damage of oxidative stress in the farm animals, the traditional approach has been the administration of antioxidant vitamins, mainly vitamins C and E. However, in the recent years, the use of plant extracts and essential oils as antioxidants is gaining attention, due to their powerful antioxidant capacity and to the multiple side benefits that they offer.
Total antioxidant capacity assay (TAC)
The total antioxidant capacity of vitamin C, vitamin E and several of our products was evaluated by the phosphomolybedum assay. The total antioxidant capacity is a measure of both water-soluble and fat-soluble antioxidant molecules contained in the essential oils or plant extracts. This assay is based on the reduction of Mo(VI) to Mo(V) and the formation of the green phosphate/Mo(V) complex, that is measured by spectrophotometry (absorbance).
The concentration of vitamin C and E used in the test correspond to the standard recommended doses for poultry and swine to treat heat stress. The concentration of our products used in the test correspond to the recommended doses for each of them.
From the results, it can be concluded that PhytoShield©, our new product for general stress, has a antioxidant capacity better than vitamin C, and that PlusProtect Digestive©, PhytoMax© and PlusBreathe© have an antioxidant power similar to vitamin E.
During heat stress, the administration of plant extracts and essential oils as antioxidants has additional benefits compared to the administration of vitamin C and E:
- Certain plant extracts, such as peppermint and eucalyptus, give an instant sensation of cold and cool down the body temperature by 0.2ºC.
- During episodes of heat stress, the animals that are treated with natural antioxidants gain more weight and have a better FCR than the animals treated with vitamin C.
- Plant extracts have positive effects on gut flora and on overall gut health, preventing the digestive problems that often happen in the hot season.
- Many plant extracts are powerful immune boosters. The immune system is one of the most affected by oxidative stress.
Products of choice
PhytoMax© is a combination of vitamins, chelated calcium, microminerals and essential oils to be given through drinking water. It is intended for layers and breeders to:
- Maintain the levels of calcium and magnesium needed for optimal egg production.
- Reinforce skeletal health.
- Prevent cage fatigue.
- Stimulate the hepatic metabolism and the immune system.
- Improve the quality of the egg and the health of day-old chicks.
- Avoid the drop of the laying rate produced by stress (management, vaccines, hot weather, etc…)
- At the start of the laying period, to boost productivity.
- Prolong the productive life of the hen.
PlusBreathe© contains essential oils with antiseptic, antioxidant, expectorant and natural mucolytic activity. It has a refreshing taste.
It is indicated to improve the functioning of the respiratory system and to mitigate heat stress in birds, ruminants, pigs and rabbits of all ages. It can also be nebulized in the farm environment. Contact us for more information about the use of the product.
PlusProtect Digestive© is intended to maintain and improve digestive health in birds, rabbits and aquatic species of all ages. It is given through drinking water and is formulated with synergistic ingredients:
- Essential oils with bactericidal and fungicidal activity
- Plant extracts with prebiotic effect.
- Immunostimulant and antioxidant essential oils
PhytoShield© is a supplement of essential oils, electrolytes and vitamins intended to promote growth, improve general health and keep the animals hydrated, especially in stressful moments.
Ms. Lizhichao and Ms. Gongpeihua, Technical Department
Copyright© 2019 PlusVet Animal Health
Certain health statements may not be applicable in your geographical region. Product claims may differ based upon the requirements of your government.