Effect of Feed Additives as Alternatives to In-feed Antimicrobials on Production Performance and Intestinal Clostridium perfringens Counts in Broiler Chickens
Norwegian Veterinary Institute, P.O. Box 750 Sentrum, 0106 Oslo, Norway
Nortura SA, P.O. Box 360 Økern, 0513 Oslo, Norway
Felleskjøpet Fôrutvikling AS, Nedre Ila 20, 7018 Trondheim, Norway
Fiskå Mølle AS, Fiskåvegen 1010, 4120 Tau, Norway
Norgesfôr AS, Torggata 10, 0181 Oslo, Norway
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 January 2020 / Revised: 27 January 2020 / Accepted: 29 January 2020 / Published: 3 February 2020
For many years, antibiotics were added to chicken feed to prevent disease and promote growth. This practice has been banned or voluntarily abolished in many countries. However, most countries still allow the use of in-feed ionophorous coccidiostats, which are drugs that possess both antiparasitic and antibacterial properties. Concerns related to antimicrobial resistance have led to increased focus on broiler chickens raised without the use of any antimicrobial agents, and the interest in non-antibiotic feed additives with beneficial effects on gastrointestinal health and productivity is growing. In this study, feed additives with active components belonging to the product classes probiotics, prebiotics, phytogenics and/or organic acids were assessed for their effect on intestinal health and production performance in broiler chickens. Collectively, the group of non-antibiotic feed additives improved gut health and performance, but not to the same extent as the ionophorous coccidiostat narasin. Probiotics and prebiotics had the overall best performances during coccidia challenge, phytogenics improved overall feed conversion and reduced counts of the intestinal bacterium Clostridium perfringens, and organic acids increased weight gain independent of age. This study provides comparable and unbiased results from testing of alternatives to antibiotics in a uniform experimental model highly relevant to commercial conditions.
Numerous non-antibiotic feed additives (alternatives to antibiotics, ATAs) have been marketed, but few have been evaluated under uniform testing conditions modelling commercial flocks. We compared 24 ATA treatments and the ionophorous coccidiostat narasin against a diet without any feed additives. Feed conversion ratio and body weight gain were registered from day 0 to 28 in Ross 308 chickens housed on litter floor. The chickens were challenged with Eimeria spp., and cecal Clostridium perfringens (CP) counts were investigated. Active components from all ATA classes had a positive impact on intestinal health or production performance. Whereas narasin had a strong CP-reducing effect in combination with performance-promoting impact, only two ATA treatments achieved significantly beneficial effects on CP counts as well as feed conversion during the time span following Eimeria challenge. Active components present in these two treatments include a Bacillus subtilis probiotic strain, short- and medium-chain fatty acids and Saccharomyces cerevisiae components. Different ATA classes had beneficial impact during distinct rearing phases and on specific performance targets, suggesting that optimizing combinations and use of active components can make ATAs even more useful tools in broiler rearing without the use of in-feed antimicrobials. Further studies of promising ATAs and ATA combinations are required.
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