How gar­lic is thwart­ing the dreaded red mite

Country Smallholding - - In Focus -

GAR­LIC con­tains a po­tent nat­u­ral in­sec­ti­cide and af­ter 15 years of hard work devel­op­ing a gar­lic-based prod­uct, one East Sus­sex-based com­pany be­lieves that it has come up with an ef­fec­tive red mite treat­ment.

Back in the early 1990s, Nor­man Ben­nett was work­ing for a wa­ter com­pany when he read a book on gar­lic. The book stated that al­licin, a com­pound found in gar­lic, is the best an­timi­cro­bial com­pound it is pos­si­ble to find in na­ture.

“If this is true, then why are we not us­ing it to fight bac­te­ria,” he asked him­self.

Af­ter much trial and er­ror, he and busi­ness part­ner Peter Josling de­vel­oped a patented process to pro­duce al­licin. To­day their com­pany, Al­licin In­ter­na­tional, is sell­ing al­licin world­wide under the brand name of Nopex BK in a range of forms — pow­der, creams, pills and sprays — aimed at both the re­tail vet­eri­nary and med­i­cal sec­tors.

Be­hind this success is a wealth of in­de­pen­dent re­search data which demon­strates the prod­uct’s an­timi­cro­bial and an­ti­fun­gal prop­er­ties. Lab­o­ra­tory tests by Dr Ron Cut­ler of the Univer­sity of East Lon­don show that al­licin is ef­fec­tive against a wide range of mi­crobes, in­clud­ing E coli, Lis­te­ria mono­cy­to­genes, Borde­tella, Sal­mo­nella en­teri­tis, Clostrid­ium per­frin­gens and Staphy­lo­coc­cus aureus.

“We are even see­ing pos­i­tive re­sults with MRSA. Al­licin suc­cess­fully kills MRSA while the most pow­er­ful an­tibi­otic avail­able of­ten fails,” says Nor­man, who is now look­ing at how his prod­uct can ben­e­fit the live­stock sec­tor, in­clud­ing poul­try.

He started with a one-month trial on E coli.

“One shed con­tain­ing 10,000 lay­ers re­ceived no treat­ment, while a sec­ond re­ceived 1.5l of Nopex BK so­lu­tion/1,000l of drink­ing wa­ter for seven days and then 1l/1,000l for three days.”

The trial re­vealed that treated birds were free of E coli, while con­trol birds showed signs of in­fec­tion in liver sam­ples. But a more no­tice­able ben­e­fit be­came ap­par­ent only days af­ter the start of the trial.

“Treated birds ap­peared health­ier and had red­der combs,” Nor­man ex­plains. “Con­trol birds had white combs, a typ­i­cal symp­tom of red mite at­tack due to anaemia. The re­sult was that treated birds pro­duced 2% more eggs as well.”

Nor­man ad­mits that he wasn’t sur­prised by the im­prove­ment in per­for­mance as high lev­els of mite in­fes­ta­tion can cause in­creased stress to the birds and sub­se­quently re­duced egg pro­duc­tion, anaemia and, in se­vere cases, death. In­fec­tion has also been im­pli­cated with el­e­vated lev­els of E coli.

Blood-feed­ing bird par­a­site

Red mite ( Der­manys­sus gal­li­nae) is a blood-feed­ing bird par­a­site that at­tacks rest­ing hens mainly dur­ing the night for a short (usu­ally the du­ra­tion is one to two hours) blood meal. Af­ter feed­ing, the mites hide in cracks and crevices away from daylight.

Nor­man has re­cently been en­gaged in a nine-month trial com­par­ing two groups of 10,000 lay­ers. De­tailed ex­am­i­na­tion of birds in this trial re­vealed that mites at the nymph stage were be­ing re­pelled by the taste of al­licin in the blood of treated birds. The re­sult was that nymphs didn’t feed, dropped off and even­tu­ally died.

“This breaks the cy­cle, with fewer nymphs reach­ing the adult stage,” he ex­plains.

Birds also showed more vi­tal­ity and im­proved comb colour. In the cur­rent trial, Nopex BK is prov­ing 100% ef­fec­tive and birds are cur­rently lay­ing 2-4% more eggs.

Also, there is no bird mor­tal­ity, with the birds liv­ing longer, stay­ing longer in pro­duc­tion and the treat­ment also helps to keep wa­ter tanks, pipes and drinkers clean.

When talk­ing about gar­lic, pro­duc­ers of­ten ques­tion whether al­licin puts birds off drink­ing. But Nor­man high­lights the in­clu­sion rate: “At a rate of 1.5l of prod­uct/1,000l of drink­ing wa­ter, there is no prob­lem with wa­ter in­takes,” he says. “Lab­o­ra­tory tests also con­firm no traces of al­licin in eggs or in meat.”

Look­ing ahead, Nor­man en­vis­ages that pro­duc­ers will treat birds through lay on a re­peat­ing three days on, three days off pro­gramme. It also pro­vides pro­duc­ers with a non-an­tibi­otic treat­ment for E coli.

Dr J W Bok is car­ry­ing out tri­als with Dutch pest con­trol com­pany Van Veld­hui­jzen on a layer unit near Boxmeer, The Nether­lands.

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