Biological activity of volatile plant metabolites is the property that can potentially find application in animal nutrition. Nowadays, the use of bioactive compounds is encouraged in many areas of industry and agriculture, since these substances have similar properties as withdrawn antibiotic growth promoters. Meat poultry production is focused on the maximization of performance parameters, namely rapid chicken growth with low feed consumption, and with the optimum health status of the flock. Essential oils can stimulate the growth and functioning of the body, which translates into both chicken’s health and enhanced production parameters. The substances are characterized by a range of effects, are easily biodegradable, and do not usually require a waiting period - hence they can be used in breeding broiler chickens. Given the increasing restrictions imposed on poultry production in terms of food safety and ethical aspects of husbandry, it seems appropriate to look for the use of new, natural substances to be applied in animal production. The article presents the characteristics of essential oils in this context, with a particular focus on their antimicrobial and immunostimulatory properties. The paper also describes production applications of essential oils tested in experiments on hybrid Ross 308 and Cobb 500 chickens.
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