The Effects of Probiotics on Performance and Immune Response of Broiler Chickens during Coccidiosis
Ritzi, Miranda Marie
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Coccidiosis is endemic in the commercial broiler industry and inflicts devastating economic losses to poultry operations. Probiotics may provide a potential alternative to the prophylactic use of anticoccidials in commercial production. This study evaluated the effects of probiotic applications (feed and water) on bird performance and resistance to a mixed Eimeria infection in commercial broilers. On day of hatch, 1008 commercial male broilers (Cobb 500) were assigned to one of 6 treatments (8 replicate floor pens; 21 birds/pen), including non-infected negative control (NEG), Eimeria-infected positive control (POS), anticoccidial control (0.01% salinomycin, SAL), intermittent high dose water-applied probiotic (WPI), continuous low dose water-applied probiotic (WPC), and feed-supplemented probiotic (FSP). On d15, all birds except those in NEG were challenged with a mixed inoculum of Eimeria acervulina, E. maxima, and E. tenella. Measurements were taken on d7, 15, 21, 28, 35 and 42. Fecal samples were collected from d20-d24 for oocyst counts, and lesion scores were evaluated on d21. Data were analyzed using the Fit Model platform in JMP Pro 10.0 (SAS). Differences in experimental treatments were tested using Tukey HSD following ANOVA with significance reported at P ° 0.05. Overall, NEG birds outperformed all other groups. For performance, the probiotic groups were comparable to the SAL treated birds, except during the 6 days immediately following the Eimeria species challenge, where the SAL birds exhibited better performance. WPC birds had lower duodenal and jejunal lesion scores, indicating a healthier intestine and enhanced resistance to Eimeria species compared to POS. Birds in the WPI treatment shed fewer oocysts in the feces, though this was not a trend for all of the probiotic treatment groups. The results of this study suggest probiotic supplementation without anticoccidials can enhance performance and help alleviate the negative effects of a mixed Eimeria infection.
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