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article imageCan oregano oil be as effective as an antibiotic in chicken feed?

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By Leigh Goessl     Dec 27, 2012 in Food
Fredericksburg - A chicken farm in Pennsylvania is using oregano oil as a natural way to ward off bacterial infections in its chickens. The company says it feels they are "on to something" by using this herb as part of its preventative practices against disease.
Bell & Evans, a chicken farm in Fredericksburg, Penn., advertises it only keeps chickens that are organically grown, with freedom to roam and a vegetarian, natural diet.
Citing on its website that biologists have "long understood that overcrowding of people or animals leads to stress, an assortment of health disorders, and aggressive behavior. We all need our space, and chickens are no exception."
Bell & Evans is a company that says it follows this philosophy, which also includes the use of no antibiotics in its chicken feed. What the company is doing these days is using oregano oil as a method to ward off dangerous bacteria.
Scott Sechler spoke to the New York Times about his company's use of oregano oil. The Times reported Bell & Evans has been using a "specially milled diet laced with oregano oil and a touch of cinnamon," at intervals during the last three years.
Sechler indicated he has used other alternatives to antibiotics, however nothing has worked as well as oregano oil.
Back in 2001, Science Daily had reported findings of using oregano oil as an effective treatment against bacteria was found by a Georgetown researcher and at that time noted preliminary findings were "positive".
Not everyone agrees that oregano oil is necessarily a good substitute.
Chickens and roosters in a barn with plenty of room to move around inside and out.
Chickens and roosters in a barn with plenty of room to move around inside and out.
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“Oil of oregano is a perennial one, advertised as a cure for just about everything,” said Scott Gavura, a pharmacist in Toronto who writes for the Web site Science-Based Medicine, reported NYT. “But there isn’t any evidence, there are too many unanswered questions and the only proponents for it are the ones producing it.”
Gavura, however, along with other experts, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), agree that using antibiotics in chicken feed has problems. Increasingly it is being found that bacteria is becoming resistant to antibiotics.
“I have worried a bit about how I’m going to sound talking about this,” Sechler told NYT regarding Bell & Evans use of oregano oil. “But I really do think we’re on to something here.”
Sechler also notes that oregano oil alone is not the answer, indicating that high standards of sanitation in barns, a healthy diet and good ventilation and light are important factors.
“You can’t just replace antibiotics with oregano oil and expect it to work,” Mr. Sechler said.
What do you think? Can oregano oil an effective preventative in chicken feed?
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More about oregano oil, Antibiotics, bell and evans, chicken feed, Chickens
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