Broilers are one of the most commonly kept commercial birds and broiler keepers use different kinds of homemade and commercially available feed additives to ensure the best performance of their birds. Poultry products like meat and eggs are used by millions of people all over the world due to essential amino acids, vitamins, and proteins.

According to a survey (2019), the consumption of poultry meat on an average is 124g in 7 billion human populations globally out of which 24g covered by animal protein which is not sufficient and does not fulfill the requirement of such a huge population. In order to overcome the deficiency of proteins, animals are offered balanced compound feed resulted in 980 million tons of animals feed out of which 45% feed is consumed by poultry and rest is used by other animals like pets, ruminantsand aquatic animals.

The excessive use of antibiotics in poultry and livestock production as growth promoters resulted in the development of bacterial antibiotic resistance. So many countries of the world banned the antibiotics use in poultry. The poultry industry faced outbreak of diseases, high mortality, compromised growth performance and thus low profitability after that. So the scientists are seeking for alternatives of antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) that provide safety for both poultry and consumer health.

Many potential candidates have subsequently been put forth and evaluated to replace AGPs that include prebiotics, probiotics, phytobiotics and organic acids. Among phytobiotics, Catharanthus roseus is a potential phytobiotics AGP alternative. It is also known as Vinca rosea, belongs to family Apocynaceae.

Its common name is “Sadabahar”. It possesses many medicinal properties, such as antifungal, antibacterial, antioxidantand antihyperlipidemic. Based on various medicinal properties,the department of Physiology, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) Lahore, conducted a research to evaluate the growth promoting potential of C. roseus extracts in broiler chickens.

In our study, we divided one day-old broiler chicks into various treatment groups and supplemented with leaf and root extracts of C. roseus at different concentrations whereas a control group was reared for comparison and only fed the basal diet. Chicks were placed in controlled shed and provided all the basic necessities i.e., optimized temperature and humidity. The birds were provided free access to feed and water for 35 days.

In our experiment positive results in the growth performance were observed in broilers fed with C. roseus. No particular mortality was seen throughout the experiment. A marked improvement in intestinal health in broilers was observed in treatment groups.

It may be possible that supplementation of C. roseusmay enhance the nutrient availability and cause killing of pathogenic organisms in the gut which otherwise causing disease in poultry and thus health status of birds.After this experiment we conclude that this herb can use as an alternative of antibiotic growth promoters.

The writer is a PhD scholar.