Chilean tree extract could control histomoniasis in turkeys

A phytogenic feed additive made from a Chilean tree could help turkey producers better manage blackhead disease (histomoniasis).

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Tertman | Shutterstock.com
Tertman | Shutterstock.com

A phytogenic feed additive made from a Chilean tree could help turkey producers better manage blackhead disease (histomoniasis).

“Blackhead disease is a very challenging disease because it’s too complicated. You don’t know when it will come, so it’s hard to predict outbreaks,” Sebastian Decap, category manager, Plantae Labs, said. “There is a lack of solutions for blackhead disease.”

Histomoniasis is a protozoal disease that can be spread via the cloacal drinking phenomenon. The major vector for the disease is the heterakis gallinarum, more commonly known as the cecal worm. Turkeys are highly susceptible to the disease and mortality in infected flocks can reach 80-100%.

There are currently no approved treatments to prevent, treat or control blackhead disease in the U.S.

“The protozoa can be killed with some natural ingredients,” Decap added. “We started with these encapsulations to try to deliver the product of the active ingredient straight to the turkey.”

Quillaia against blackhead disease in turkeys

The research focused on Quillaia extract, which is made from the inner bark or wood of a tree species native to Chile. The extract is used in several human foods. For example, it’s responsible for the foam on top of a glass of A&W root beer.

For use in turkeys, Quillaia was mixed with polymer combinations to better achieve a controlled release in the turkey intestinal tract. In this study, quillaia was given in the feed, however a phytogenic water solution against the disease is also in development.

Turkey poults that received the phytogenic feed additive had decreased mortality, lower cecum lesion scores and overall better performance results than the control group when challenged with blackhead disease.

This research was initially presented as a poster presentation at the 2023 International Poultry Science Forum (IPSF), part of the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Georgia.

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