The use of black cumin and garlic powder in poultry feed has received considerable attention in recent years, mainly because of their high nutritional and therapeutic values. What is their mode of action and their effect on poultry health and performance?
By Dr Salah H. Esmail , Cairo, Egypt
Black cumin (Nigella sativa L.) is widely grown in the Mediterranean region, and has long been used as a therapeutic and flavouring agent in human food, particularly bakery products. More recently, the herb has been introduced into poultry nutrition programs for therapeutic and nutritional purposes. The average proximate and mineral composition of black cumin seeds is shown in Table 1. These values however may vary depending on geographic distribution, time of harvest, and agronomic practices.
Black cumin seeds contain appreciable quantities of poly-unsaturated fatty acids representing 48-70% of their total oil content, with lesser proportions of mono-unsaturated fatty acids amounting to only 18-29%. Besides, the seeds contain considerable quantities of tocopherols and allied bioactive compounds such as phytosterols and thymoquinone which are important in enhancing the overall antioxidant capabilities of the body and act against various stresses, immune dysfunctions, and other complications.