With the current bans and limitations on AGP all around the world, feed additives are widely used to inhibit the effects of pathogenic microorganisms on poultry health. Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) have become a focus of attention due to their potentially favorable antimicrobial effects and performance booster. This study was designed to evaluate two feeding strategies that can replace in-feed antibiotics by MCFA from vegetal origin. A total of 400 male Cobb 430 broiler chickens were randomly distributed into four treatments (n=10): NC, negative control, without any in-feed antibiotic growth promoter; PC, positive control, NC diet supplemented with bacitracin methylene disalicylate (BMD, 50 ppm); DIC1, NC diet supplemented with sodium salt of MCFA (Dicosan®, NOREL SA) at 1.5 g, 1.0 g and 0.5 g per kg diet during the starter, grower and finisher stages; and DIC2, NC diet supplemented with sodium salt of MCFA (Dicosan®, NOREL SA) at 1.0 g, 0.5 g and 0.5 g per kg diet during the starter, grower and finisher stages. Chemical coccidiostat (Diclazuril, 0.3g/kg) was used throughout the study period. Performance, carcass traits, microbial population and histomorphology in small intestine were evaluated at the end of the trial (Day35). All parameters were analyzed using a one-way ANOVA via SAS, with pen as the experimental unit and values were compared by Tukey’s test. At the end of the study (35d) DIC1 birds were numerically the heaviest (2410g, 2421g,2453g and 2419g, for NC, PC DIC1 and DIC2, respectively, P>0.05) without differences in FCR or in carcass traits. Those slight differences could be related with a significant shift in the microbial populations (log10 CFU/g digesta) of E. coli (7.17c, 4.66ab, 4.49a and 4.78b for NC, PC DIC1 and DIC2, respectively, P=0.0001); Salmonella spp. (6.82c, 4.66b, 4.29a and 4.90b for NC, PC DIC1 and DIC2, respectively, P=0.0001); Cl. Perfringens (6.32d, 5.59c, 5.27b and 4.84a for NC, PC DIC1 and DIC2, respectively, P=0.0001). There were no significant differences in small intestinal morphology, however, DIC2 had numerically higher villus length and Crypt depth than the other treatments.
In conclusion, this study supports the idea that DICOSAN can improve gut health and can replace BMD as an antibiotic growth promoter.