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The impact of dietary beta-glucans on poultry health and performance

Trimble, L., A. Ferguson, B. Migdal, M. Pasquinelli, N. Acar and P. Patterson

This study measured immune and performance parameters of broilers fed 2 beta-glucans from mushroom Agaricus blazei, Agaricus Bio CX (AGM), Atlas World USA and yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Original (XPC), Diamond V. 810 broilers (Cobb x Ross) were divided into 3 treatments with 6 replicate pens of 45 birds per pen. Starter, Grower and Finisher diets were formulated to meet nutritional requirements including a Control and 2 treatment diets with either 0.10% AGM or 0.0625% XPC added to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Bursa of Fabricius weight, cellular immunity via PHA-P toe injection and humoral immunity via SRBC injection were measured 3 times from 3 birds/pen. Pen body weight, feed intake and feed conversion were measured during each diet period (n=42, 39 and 36 birds/pen, respectively). Data were analyzed as a one-factor ANOVA using the GLM procedure of SAS software (SAS, 2012) and Tukey’s comparison for mean separation when the F-test was significant (P<0.05). Results for the Starter period indicate the Control and AGM were significantly greater compared to the XPC (P<0.05) for feed intake, body weight (208 and 201g vs. 194g, respectively) and body weight gain than the XPC, resulting in a higher feed/gain ratio for XPC. For the Grower period the Control birds were significantly greater than the XPC fed pens (P<0.05) for feed intake, body weight (674 vs. 630g) and body weight gain, while the AGM birds were intermediate and not significantly different. For the Finisher period there was no significant treatment differences for feed intake, body weight, body weight gain and feed/gain ratio. Overall, at 42 d there was no impact (P>0.05) of treatment on gain (mean = 2,017g), feed intake (mean = 3,804g), feed/gain ratio (mean = 1.887), bursa weight or bursa percentage of body weight. For cellular immunity, no significant treatment effect on toe thickness was observed at 0, 24, 48 or 60 h following PHA-P injection. But for the saline injection there was a significantly greater 60 h response for the AGM compared to the Control (P<0.05) and the XPC was intermediate. Similarly, there was a significant increase in right toe thickness from 0 to 24 h post PHA-P injection (P<0.05) at 28 d for AGM compared to the Control, while the XPC was intermediate (P>0.05). Finally, there was no significant impact of treatment on mortality during the 42-d study (mean=2.74%).

In conclusion, while there were significant beta-glucan effects on feed intake, body weight, gain and feed conversion early on (10 and 21 d), there were none at the end of the study (42 d). However, there was a cellular immunity trend indicating the AGM and XPC treatments elicited a greater response than the Control birds at both 14 and 28 d of age.