“Humic substances are a class of compounds resulting from the decomposition of organic matter, particularly plants. There is no doubt that HA has many beneficial effects, particularly in animals. Many studies and trials have shown its capacity to inhibit bacterial and fungal growth (decreasing levels of mycotoxinsin feed), reduce stress by hormones,improve the immune system, prevent and cure intestinal disorders and as antiviral and anti-inflammatory in animals. Humic substances also improve the nutritive value of feed and trace element utilization, with positive effects on growth performances and a reduction in mortality.”   Humic Acid on Livestock I. The use of humic acids in animal feeds is bringing a number of advantages for animal’s health and growth and they are as follows: (1) Humic acid is able to form a protective film on the mucous epithelium of the membrane and gas tract against infections and toxins. The macrocolloidal structure of astringent effects of humic acids shields the mucous membrane of the stomach and guts. (2) Humic acid has the ability to influence in particular the metabolism of protein carbohydrates of microbes by catalytic means. This leads to a direct devastating of bacterial cells or virus particles (Huck et al., 1991). (3) Dermal, oral or subcutaneous application of humic acid leads to inhibitory effects on inflammation. (4) The detoxifying benefits of humic acid in the soil cover the full spectrum of accumulated toxins associated with chemical farming. When humic acid is added to the diet, heavy metals, nitrates, fluoride, organophosphates, carbaryl and chloride organic insecticides can be adsorbed and excreted. (5) Humic acid stimulates the immune system receptors in the gut lining to protect against pathogens. In recent years, it has been observed that humates included in the feed of poultry promote growth (Bailkey et al., 1996; Parks et al., 1996; Eren et al., 2000; Kocabagli et al., 2002; Karaoglu et al., 2004).   II. Glimpses and Summaries of Specific Research Studies on Beneficial Effects of Humic Acid On Livestock

  1. The effects of humic acid on feed efficiency and egg production of laying hen Dr. Seher Kucukers and other experts from Ankara University & Akdeniz University, in Turkey, carried out a study to determine the effects of humic acid on feed consumption and conversion, and egg production of laying hen.A total of 180 (Hysex Brown) layers (36 weeks of age) were used in this experiment. There was one control and two experimental groups, each containing 60 hens and 4 subgroups. The experimental period lasted 16 weeks. At the end of the experiment, the supplementation of humic acid had a significant effect on feed consumption and feed efficiency. An increase in egg production was determined when humic acid was added to the diets at 30 g/t of feeds (91.70%) and 60 g/t of feeds (91.32%). It can be therefore concluded that the dietary supplementation of humic acid at doses of 30 and 60 g/t feed can be used to improve feed efficiency and egg production.
  2. Humic Acid As Replacement to antibiotic growth promoter in animals Replacing antibiotic with HA as growth promoter in animal feed does not cause any loss in the performance of animals.On the contrary, performance factors (LWG, FI, FCR and faeces consistency – scour assessment) of animals are considerably improved. The use of HA in animal feed excludes of course the possibility of antibiotic residue or microbial resistance (Humin Tech, 2004). Simultaneously, as a result of a higher food conversion rate and enhanced absorption of nitrogen by the animal,nitrogenous wastes and odour are reduced. It was also concluded by Ceylan and Ciftci, (2002) that HA would be an alternative to antibiotic growth promoters in broiler diets.
  3. HA Helps in stress management on sheeps, horses, cattles and hogs Literature reports that humates reduce the production of stress causing hormones. This has been cumulated from animal behaviour, in particular from calves first entering the arena. Animals on are less affected by the outside stimulus of the crowds or confining areas of the arena. This effect has been noted on sheep, horses, cattle and hogs. In operations, those animals not on humate aggressively eat their rations while humate animals leisurely graze(Enviromate, 2002).
  4. HA on Animals’ Immune System By improving immune functions in the animal, HA are able to reduce the incidence of diarrhea and other digestive upsets to a considerable extent as well as to improve the animal’s defences against pathogens such as E. coli (HuminTech, 2004). According to CVMP, 1999, the intramuscular injection of the HA sodium salt (1 mg kg. bw) to rabbits had no effects on haematological parameters and the glucose concentration in blood, but affected the albumine/globuline ratio in plasma (marked increase of the $-globulin fraction). Pukhova et al. (1987) found that sodium humate increases the lifespan of mongrel rats exposed to lethal doses of cobalt radiation.
  5. HA effects on Liver In an experimental model with partially hepatectomised rats, long-term application of HA resulted in the stimulation of omithine decarboxylase, an increase in spermidine and histamine as well as DNA and RNA levels, and in overall liver mass (Maslinskietal., 1993). It is also clear that the humate plays a role inthe liver function and protects somewhat from disease and/or disturbances (Lotosh, 1991).
  6. Health value of humic acid substances Scientists at the Drepropetrovish Agricultural Institute in Moscow revealed humate as harmless with respect to blood, cardio-vascular system, endocrine system and other vitally important organs using patho-histological and histo-chemical methods. The toxicity of naturally occurring HA is remarkably low (Thiel et al., 1981). An LD of 0.536g kg.bw can be considered as confirmation of the harmlessness of humate (Lotosh,1991). Current repeat toxicity studies in rodents indicated total safety at levels up to 50 mg kg body weight (Laub, 1998b).

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