Probiotics, which are defined as ‘live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’ (FAO/WHO), are being increasingly studied as alternatives to replace in-feed antibiotics that may have growth-promoting effects.
Findings from a new study, published in Animal Feed Science and Technology, indicated that dietary supplementation with the probiotic at a level of at 0.8 million colony forming units (CFU) per gram of feed was associated with a 2.6% increase in egg production and a 45 increase in egg mass, compared to control.
The research confirms the commercial recommendation of 800,000 CFU/g feed for the B. subtilis strain on egg performance and quality, said scientists from the Federal University of Viçosa in Brazil and Chr. Hansen.
The data also indicated that the probiotic could reduce the level of moisture in the excreta of the layers, with the probiotic diet associated with a 4.7% increase in dry matter, compared with the control diet.
“This result suggests that the dietary supplementation of B. subtilis may allow reducing excreta moisture, thereby preventing the problems caused by wet litter in poultry farms,” they wrote.
The scientists used 240 Hy-line W-36 layers for their study. The birds, aged between 25 and 45 weeks, were randomly assigned to one of four groups. The first group received the basic diet with no probiotics, while the other three groups received the basic diet with additional B. subtilis strain Gallipro (patented by Chr. Hansen) at doses of 800,000 CFU/g feed, 400,000 CFU/g feed, or 300,000 CFU/g feed, respectively.
After 20 weeks of intervention, the results indicated that the probiotics at any of the doses did not affect feed intake or feed conversion ratio per dozen eggs.
However, B. subtilis at a dose of 800,000 CFU/g feed was associated with significant increases in egg production and egg mass, compared to control.
In addition, all three doses were associated with increases in egg weight, with probiotic-supplements diets found to boost egg weight by an average of 1.28% over the control diet.
“Probiotics supplementation may improve the performance, [apparent metabolizable energy] and the apparent ileal digestibility of nutrients of poultry,” wrote the researchers. “Furthermore, probiotics have been reported to enhance the maintenance and the barrier function of the intestinal epithelium as they may prevent the proliferation of pathogenic microorganisms by competing for the nutrients available in the lumen. Gut motility may increase due to the proliferation of pathogenic microorganism in intestinal environment, thereby altering nutrient availability for absorption at desired points. Thus, probiotics may improve live performance by maintaining gut health.”
Source: Animal Feed Science and Technology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2014.06.001
“Effects of the dietary supplementation of Bacillus subtilis levels on performance, egg quality and excreta moisture of layers”
Authors: V. Ribeiro Jr., L.F.T. Albino, H.S. Rostagno, S.L.T. Barreto, M.I. Hannas, D. Harrington, F.A. de Araujo, H.C. Ferreira Jr., M.A. Ferreira