Oxidative stress is a physiological state where the production of harmful compounds (free radicals) overcomes the antioxidant defenses of the organism, resulting in a disruption of the oxidative balance. Free radicals are products from the cellular respiration process. They are highly reactive and can induce important oxidative damage in the organism, leading to an impairment of biological functions. The perturbation of the oxidative balance can be induced by stress factors which can be of physiological (pathologies), environmental (livestock conditions) or nutritional origin. This oxidative balance disruption can lead to dramatic impacts on the performance and health of farm animals: higher Feed Conversion Rate, degradation of the metabolism, alteration of the meat quality, weakening of the immunity, etc.
Antioxidants are defense molecules used by the animal to fight against these reactive species. They can be produced by the cell (glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, catalase) or brought by the diet (vitamin E, vitamin C, phenolic compounds). Among the different sources of dietary antioxidants, polyphenols from plant extracts such as grape extracts have been extensively studied for their high antioxidant activity since their discovery of the French Paradox phenomenon.
Providing antioxidant in the diet to reduce oxidative stress in farm animals is essential to improve performances and to support health and overall welfare.