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Yucca schidigera is an herbaceous plant of lily family, native to the deserts of the southwestern United State and northern Mexico. It contains two active compounds: at least 10.5% steroidal saponins and polyphenols. Saponins are similarly in structure to Glucocorticoids in animals.

Previously It was thought that the Yucca extract could bind ammonia and therefore reduce its emission from pets and other animals. However, ammonia concentrations in the gut are at least 100-fold greater than the concentrations of the yucca extract. Currently it is believed that the high circulating levels of Glucocorticoid in response to various oxidative stress including heat stress result in enhanced degradation of amino acids to generate ammonia and reduced protein synthesis in skeleton muscle.

Under conditions of the oxidative stress including heat stress, the Yucca extract can block the bonding of glucocorticoids to their receptors in cells. Thus, the yucca extract could alleviate the oxidative stress including heat stress and reduce ammonium emission in the stress situation (Table 1). When broiler chickens were housed at an average ambient temperature of 24˚C, dietary supplementation of Yucca extract (120 ppm and 180 ppm) did not affect the feed intake or body weight gain (Wu, 2018). However, in table 1, when the ambient temperature was naturally elevated from 27˚C to 37˚C, the Yucca supplementation improved body weight gain by 38-43% and FCR 46% to 52% compared with the control group.

Table 1 The effect of the addition of the Yucca extract on broiler chicken performance under the heat stress

 

Yucca saponins also have anti-protozoal activity by supressing protozoal infection of the intestine. It is reported that Yucca saponins could bind with cholesterol in protozoal cell membrane and destroy the integrity of the protozoal membrane. Coccidiosis is one of the main challenges for the worldwide poultry industry. Although coccidiostats are often rotated, the poultry industry is challenged by resistance of the Eimeria parasites to these treatments. In a recent trial conducted in the Europe, Kozlowski et al (2022) reported that both the anticoccidial and 500 g/Mt Yucca supplementation showed significant improvement in body weight (2150 g and 2058 g vs. 1998 g, Table 2)

It is now also reported that Yucca polyphenolics have anti-inflammatory activity and could prevent arthritis. The generation of reactive oxygen species such as nitric oxide is an important factor in the development of rheumatic arthritis. Yucca polyphenolics may inhibit nitric oxide production and prevent arthritis.

Table 2. The effect of supplemental Yucca extract on challenged chicken performance (d1-35)

A study compiled by our Redox Animal Nutritionists.

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