Dietary Non-Drug Feed Additive as an Alternative for Antibiotic Growth Promoters for Broilers During a Necrotic Enteritis Challenge
Necrotic enteritis, caused by Clostridium perfringens, is an enteric disease that leads to poor performance and increased mortality, resulting in significant economic losses in poultry production. This study evaluated the effects of a proprietary prebiotic, probiotic, and plant extract blend on performance of broilers during coccidiosis challenge leading to necrotic enteritis (NE). In total, 744 Cobb500 male broilers were randomly allocated to 3 treatments (8 replicates, 31 birds/pen) including, the negative control (NC) fed a basal diet; the positive control (PC) fed a basal diet with Virginiamycin; and the additive group fed basal diet with a blend of prebiotic, probiotic, and plant extract (BSN). A unique, naturally occurring NE model developed to mimic field conditions was implemented to challenge the birds. This model consists of spraying a concentrated commercial coccidiosis vaccine on litter and feed upon bird placement, which, in conjunction with the presence of C. perfringens spores in the environment, leads to the development of a NE outbreak one week post vaccine application. At the onset of NE on d7, three birds/pen were selected for scoring NE lesions. Body weight gain (BWG), feed intake (FI), and feed conversion ratio (FCR) were recorded on days 7, 14, 28, and 42. Carcass composition was assessed by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) analysis on day 42. Dietary supplementation of BSN significantly (p < 0.05) improved FCR during starter and grower periods. Dietary treatments had no effect on NE lesions in the small intestine. DXA analysis revealed slightly higher lean content in BSN birds compared to NC. These results showed that dietary supplementation of the BSN blend significantly improved broilers performance during the early NE challenge phase, as well as in the grower period.