Since the 1950s, scientists have known about the medical efficacy of certain plants. Still, they only found their way into modern livestock farming about 10 years ago. Today, they are not just found in the organic sector.

However, hardly any plant is useful simply fresh from the field or dried. The plants are generally elaborately distilled or fermented in order to extract the essential oils as a base for a suitable organic compound.

In the laboratory, the inhibition zone test delivers proof of efficacy: The larger the clear circle, the more effective the compound.

In objective comparative tests with several natural compounds, prepared oregano was proven to be the most effective biological agent.

The oil extracted from the plant inhibited 19 of 25 investigated bacterial strains, showed good efficacy against four strains and only had to admit defeat in two cases. Thus, oregano is considered to be a natural broad-spectrum bacteria killer.


Broad-spectrum bacteria killer
The advantage of oregano compared to other compounds is the relatively low effective dose and the neutral flavor in meat, milk and eggs.

Especially, the low dose is remarkable for use to control fungi: The dose required to eliminate 99.9 percent of Candida is 111 times lower than with the standard medication (calcium-magnesium-caprylate). In other cases, a concentration of 0.1 percent or 0.01 percent is already sufficient to eliminate 90 percent of Candida.

The laboratory values can generally be transferred to practical use in cattle farming; however, some restrictions may apply.

In the case of salmonella, although oregano is very effective at inhibiting the spreading of salmonella in the barn, these bacteria are not only found in the livestock but also in alternate hosts, which makes control more difficult.

This did not detract from the triumph of this natural product; oregano is being used in commercial livestock farming more than ever. Incidentally, it is used mainly for prevention until slaughtering day, since it is possible without altering the flavor of the animal product and without record in the medication log.

As a side effect, oregano stimulates the animal’s appetite and prevents premature spoilage of the feed. Oregano also leaves no detectable flavor in milk and milk products.

Several manufacturers share the market. Our company was one of the first to work with the processing of oregano for livestock farming.

In terms of cost, the conversion to natural products is economical, as demonstrated by numerous examples from organic and conventional livestock farming.

The administration is simple since the active substance is only added to the feed or drinking water. There is no danger of an overdose and there are no known cases of resistance.

Intestinal stability
Oregano has also proven itself for preventative and therapeutic use to stabilize the intestines of barn animals. Compared to conventional compounds, oregano is usually more economical, and as a bonus, it does not pose a health hazard.

A study shows that oregano is very effective when administered as a feed supplement. Oregano was given to a group of calves (43 animals) that had diarrhea. Already after one treatment, 58 percent of the animals were free of symptoms.

The rest of the animals were healed after the second dose. Although these results were also obtained in the control group, they were only obtained with the use of a hard “chemical cocktail” consisting of Baytril, Bacolam and Biosol.

Diarrheal disease is generally caused by infections, parasites or bacterial toxins. It can be recognized by frequent bowel movements that tend to be of liquid consistency and sometimes severe pain in animals.

Diarrhea requires immediate treatment, since fluids and minerals are flushed out of the body due to the reduced water-absorbing capacity of the intestinal cells. Dehydration and loss of electrolytes could ultimately lead to the death of the animal.

Respiratory disease
Another field of application is respiratory disease caused by bacteria or viruses. However, the animals are only susceptible when the farmer creates the conditions that lead to infection.

For this reason, the surrounding conditions should be checked before using medication (or oregano as a substitute).

A crucial point here is insufficient hygiene. Direct contact between persons and animals should be restricted as much as possible in order to reduce the introduction of pathogens.

Also, reducing human traffic through all the operating areas can help to prevent the spreading of existing pathogens. Animals themselves are also carriers.

It is always risky to freshen up the population with purchased animals. If it cannot be avoided, animals should only be bought from one or a few (known) suppliers, which restricts the spectrum of potential pathogens.

Stress factors, such as drafts through doors or windows that do not close properly or uncoordinated opening of doors or windows, may promote the occurrence of disease. For this reason, ventilation should be optimally adjusted.

This keeps the air temperature constant, so that the animal does not need to mobilize its reserves to compensate for cooling. Cleanliness is always key. In the barn, this means that droppings should not be left to lie longer than necessary to keep the air free of ammonia.

Pay attention to dust in general, as it has a highly irritating effect. The primary stress factors also include the mobilization of the population. Thus, changes of building and transportation should be avoided as much as possible.

Altogether, it is important to protect animals’ immune systems and mucous membranes. This also prevents secondary diseases, for example, those of the intestinal tract.

The majority of these measures can be accomplished without additional costs simply by reorganizing the operating procedures accordingly.

If one wants to reduce the risks even more, the biological oregano compounds can be added to the drinking water or sprinkled around the barn.

Parallel to this, animals can also be immunized. Antibiotics should only be administered if a large portion of the population is infected.

Those who implement these preventative measures could save a lot of money: Respiratory disease not only counts among the most frequent of diseases but also among those that cause the most economic losses, since they inhibit animal growth.

Appetite-stimulating effect
Oregano has also proven itself to be effective against constipation, flatulence and loss of appetite. The latter is a welcome side-effect of the treatment.

It can be attributed to its aromatic properties, which intensify the flavor of the feed and thus increase the feeding instinct. The effect was observed in all of the examined animal species.

The effort is worthwhile from an economical point of view since the increased yields generally are opposed to relatively low costs.

In this context, there is also the use of oregano in total mixed rations (TMR). The homogeneous distribution system consisting of basic and concentrated feeds provides animals with the required components and simplifies animal maintenance.

Although the mixture produced in the feed mixer improves the return per unit, it is not without its problems in the summer. This is due to fermentation processes in the ration that reduce feed intake.

Added oregano acts against this: Certain components of the plant provoke a biochemical reaction that reduces the reheating of the feed. The aromatic addition also increases the palatability of the feed and thus increases the animal’s appetite.

At the same time, the stimulation of salivation improves feed conversion and animal health: Saliva contains sodium bicarbonate, which has an acid-moderating effect in the rumen. The required amount of oregano administered in powder form is low.

Climate protection side effect
Only a few months ago, scientists from Penn State surprised the world with the discovery that cattle farmers can make a great contribution to climate protection with little effort.

In a study carried out on Holstein cows, it was shown that a small amount of oregano in feed can reduce the exhalation of methane gas from animal stomachs by 40 percent.

Undesirable side-effects were not observed. On the contrary, cows increased fat-corrected milk production by almost 4 percent.

The quantity of fresh oregano of 500 grams fed to each cow on a daily basis (dosage about 1:40) can be replaced by processed oregano from an agricultural specialist shop, so that only a fraction of the amount is required. The costs are of only a few cents.

These examples show that cattle farmers today have good alternatives to the often problematic chemical compounds for the treatment of disease and to increase performance.

Although oregano use had decreased in the last decades due to the industrial production of antibiotics and other chemical products, their use has fortunately been increasing again due to the worldwide trend towards healthy food produced in an animal-friendly way, as well as the increasing yield pressure. PD


Thomas Logemann
Head of sales
Dostofarm GmbH