Many fibrous ingredients incorporated in poultry feed to reduce production costs have low digestibility and cause poor growth in poultry. However, all plant-based fibers are not equal, and thus exert variable physiological effects on the birds, including but not limited to, digestibility, growth performance, and microbial fermentation. Several types of fibers, especially oligosaccharides, when supplemented in poultry diets in isolated form, exhibit prebiotic effects by enhancing beneficial gut microbiota, modulating gut immunity, boosting intestinal mucosal health, and increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in the gut. Recently, poultry producers are also facing the challenge of limiting the use of antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) in poultry feed. In addition to other alternatives in use, exogenous non-starch polysaccharides digesting enzymes (NSPase) and prebiotics are being used to provide substrates to support the gut microbiome. We also conducted a meta-analysis of different studies conducted in similar experimental conditions to evaluate the variability and conclusiveness in effects of NSPase on growth performance of broilers fed fibrous ingredients. This review presents a holistic approach in discussing the existing challenges of incorporating high-fiber ingredients in poultry feed, as well as strategies to fully utilize the potential of such ingredients in improving feed efficiency and gut health of poultry.
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