Planta Med 2013; 79 - SL61
DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1351887

Research on herbal products for production of animals in the Netherlands

MJ Groot 1, TM Asseldonk 2, J Fink-Gremmels 3, S Lourens 4, J Wagenaar 5, G Kleijer-Ligtenberg 6
  • 1RIKILT-Wageningen UR, Akkermaalsbos 2, 6708 WB, Wageningen, Netherlands
  • 2Institute for Ethnobotany and Zoopharmacognosy, Rijksstraatweg 158, 6573 DG, Beek-Ubbergen, the Netherlands
  • 3Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department for Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • 4Livestock Research-Wageningen UR, Edelhertweg 15 8219 PH Lelystad, The Netherlands
  • 5Louis Bolk Institute, Hoofdstraat 24, 3972 LA Driebergen, the Netherlands
  • 6LTO Noord, Agro Business Park 1, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands

Since 2006 RIKILT is involved in projects dedicated to herbal products for production animals. The FYTO-V project was aimed to increase the rational use of herbal therapies for prevention and treatment of diseases in organic husbandry. Therefore state-of-the-art herbal products were evaluated. On the Dutch Market 60 suppliers were identified, trading over 255 preparations for production animals. Herbal products were mostly marketed as either aromatic feed additives or complementary feeds. Very few were registered as veterinary medicines. Quality and safety of selected products were assessed by in vitro research, consisting of bioassays on anti-oxidants, antimicrobial activity and hormonal activity. The effects of selected herbal products were demonstrated through animal studies. The legislation of herbal products in Europe and other countries was also studied. Bottlenecks are less related to the substances than to the claimed efficacy. To improve scientific acceptation of herbal products a website ( was created with databases on herbs, activities, indications, animal species and literature. Also a course in phytotherapy for the higher levels of agricultural education was developed. In the Naturally Healthy project booklets were made for organic farmers (poultry, dairy and pigs) with information on the use of herbal and other natural products, general management tips and information on herbal products, literature and experiences in practice. English translations of the booklets are available via internet.

Tab. 1: Research on herbs for animals in the Netherlands




Website: http:

Databases on the internet with herbs, activities, products and suppliers

Course in phytotherapy for the higher levels of agricultural education

List of 60 suppliers with 255 products for pigs, cows, and poultry

Bioassays for effects on anti-oxidants, antimicrobial action,

Immune modulating and hormonal action, identification of biomarkers for gut health

Report on legislation of herbs in Europe with recommendations

Naturally Healthy

Practical guides for farmers: Natural Dairy Cow Health, Swine Health and Poultry Health.

Quality and safety

Overview of herbs used in production animals and horses

Contaminants: heavy metals, mycotoxins, illegal additions, plant toxins in 53 products

Research on: Hormonal action (oestrogenic and androgenic

Batch to batch analysis

Antimicrobial action

Immune modulating action

The current project for the Dutch Government is on Quality and safety of herbal products for production animals. Here the use of herbal products in production animals was investigated and samples were analysed for plant toxins, contaminants, hormones and animal drugs. Moreover in vitro antimicrobial activity of 23 products was investigated and immunomodulatory action of herbs was reviewed. For an overview of the project results see table 1.