Effects of Added Dietary Fiber and Rearing System on the Gut Microbial Diversity and Gut Health of Chickens
Laboratory of Animal Production, College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Shanxi Agricultural University, Taigu 030801, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 November 2019 / Revised: 3 January 2020 / Accepted: 4 January 2020 / Published: 8 January 2020
In recent years, more and more research has focused on the effects of free-range rearing on the welfare of chickens. However, few works have focused on the gut microbial diversity and gut health of free-range chickens, especially when plant fibers are lacking in the wild. A lack of dietary fiber decreases the gut microbial diversity and even damages the gut health of a host, so we added eubiotic lignocellulose to the feed of caged and free-range Chinese local Bian chickens at three different levels (0%, 2%, and 4%) from September to November, aiming to observe the effects of added dietary fiber and the rearing system on the gut microbial diversity, microbial metabolism, and gut health of chickens, as well as to determine an appropriate amount of lignocellulose to effectively improve the gut microbial diversity and gut health of chickens when available plant fibers are scarce. The results showed that adding 2% lignocellulose was appropriate for free-range chickens, while 4% lignocellulose was appropriate for caged chickens. In addition, compared with the 2% lignocellulose in the cage system, 2% lignocellulose in free-range rearing could effectively improve unique microbial diversity and gut development. Adding an appropriate amount of dietary fiber may be good for the gut microbial diversity and gut health of caged chickens and free-range chickens who suffer from a lack of plant fibers in the wild.