Use of silicon supplementation in broiler chicks can increase bone strength

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags silicon broiler chick Exogenous enzymes

Looking at ways to support broiler chick performance, Dr Emily Burton, associate professor in sustainable food production, Nottingham Trent University, talked about, among other strategies, the role of silicon in supporting bone development post hatch at YAN20.

The FeedNavigator Summit​ in Amsterdam, she said, emphasized that how you start the bird off really will profoundly affect its performance in later life, she said.

“Our work that we shared on silicon is a great example of how you can give the bird a product that helps create a scaffolding, which we literally think silicone does within bone. It allows the bird to build a much system around it going forward.”

At YAN20, she cited research carried out by her team that saw significantly higher body weight gain in birds fed a silicon diet compared to the control.

The research in question involved 576 male Ross 308 chicks, which were evaluated from day of hatch to day 21 of life. The trial included 12 replications per diet. The diets comprised of two wheat soybean meal-based mash diets, with or without NTU silica at 1000 ppm.

There was a trend towards increased feed intake for birds fed the silicon supplemented diet compared to the control, she added.

There was also numerically better FCR in birds fed the trial diet, again compared to the control, and the silicon supplemented birds showed longer, wider, heavier and stronger femurs and tibias by day 21.

Exogenous enzymes

Her talk also focused on exogenous enzymes, we asked why it is important to include those in the immediate post-hatch period: “The challenge with birds is getting them going as fast as possible on the trajectory they need to be on. Exogenous enzymes, alone, are not sufficient, but they are part of our armory of how we start the bird off, very much in tandem with the work other people have shared [at YAN20] on particle size and making sure we have got digestible forms of nutrients, and also, as David Speller said in his talk, it is really important that you wrap the right husbandry around all that; it is very much an holistic approach that is needed,”​ said Burton.

When asked about the partial replacement of soybean meal in pre-starter broiler chick diets with a more digestible protein such as fishmeal, maize gluten meal or potato protein have performance benefits for the broiler chick, she said:

“I think that when we start the broiler chick growing, there are going at such a fast trajectory, that even the smallest things that are detrimental to them present a real problem. Anything that presents some kind of antigenic challenge, anything within soy that is proving an immune response is a real waste of the chick’s resources.”

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