Effects of Direct-Fed Microbial Products, Butyrate, and Botanicals on Performance and Health of Broilers Raised on Used Pine Shaving Litter

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Virginia Tech


Two experiments were conducted to determine the effects of various alternatives to antibiotics in broilers grown on used litter on performance, intestinal lesion scores, body composition, and cecal volatile fatty acid (VFA) concentrations. The first experiment used a corn-soybean meal based basal diet to generate a negative control (NC) diet (without treatment), a Bacillus licheniformis probiotic containing diet (NC + 0.10% DFM1), and four diets that contained various concentrations of a Bacillus subtilis probiotic (NC + 0.05% DFM2, NC + 0.10% DFM2, NC + 0.20% DFM2, and NC + 0.40% DFM2). Experimental diets were fed to broilers over a 42-day period. Body weight gain (BWG) was depressed from d 0-28 and d 0-42 with supplementation of 0.10% DFM1 and 0.05% DFM2 compared to NC fed birds (P ≤ 0.05), with no differences among the remaining treatments and the NC fed birds (P > 0.05). Feed intake (FI) and mortality corrected feed efficiency (FEm) were not different over the 0-42 day period. No differences in oocyst shedding, lesion scores, body composition or cecal VFA production were observed (P > 0.05). Consistently low lesion scores were indicative of a mild coccidial challenge. The second experiment utilized a corn-soybean meal basal diet to generate experimental treatment diets. The basal diet without additional supplements was fed to two groups of control birds, one on clean pine shaving litter (PC) and a second on used litter (NC). Treatment groups were fed the same diet, supplemented with butyrate for the first 14 days (NC + But 0-14), botanicals from d 15-43 (NC + Bot 15-43), butyrate from d 0-14 and botanicals from d 15-43 (NC + But 1-14/Bot 15-43), and butyrate from d 0-43 (NC + But 1-43). Butyrate supplementation reduced BWG from d 0-14 (P ≤ 0.05), but there were no differences in BWG from 0-43 d (P > 0.05). Feed intake was reduced for the NC + But 0-14 group from d 0-43 in comparison to both PC and NC. Lesion scores in the jejunum were reduced with supplementation of butyrate alone, fed for either d 0-14 or d 0-43 (P ≤ 0.05) and is an indication of a mild coccidial infection due to the used litter. Although there were no significant differences among treatments, overall performance was above industry expectations, likely due to the mild fall weather. These two experiments indicate that there are numerous factors involved in the efficacy of antibiotic alternatives, at least partially explaining the inconsistent results observed in the published literature.



broiler, coccidiosis, direct-fed microbial, butyrate, botanical