Intestinal function and gut microflora of broiler chickens as influenced by cereal grains and microbial enzyme supplementation.
A study was conducted to investigate the effect of the key cereal grains and a microbial enzyme supplement on broiler chicken performance, gut microflora and intestinal function. Ingestion of the barley-based diet was associated with low 28-day body weight, decreased feed intake and high FCR. The supplemental enzyme increased feed intake and weight gain of the chickens on a wheat-based diet. The pH of the gizzard and caecal contents varied with the grain type. Enzyme supplementation reduced ileal viscosity, particularly in birds that received the diet based on wheat. The birds on the barley-based diet had lower ileal digestibility of dry matter, protein and energy than those given maize and sorghum-based diets. The ileal digestibility of starch was increased by enzyme supplementation. Enzyme supplementation increased the number of total anaerobic bacteria in the gizzard of birds fed on sorghum and increased lactobacilli in the gizzard of those fed both sorghum and wheat. The birds fed the sorghum-based diet had the lowest counts of caecal total anaerobic bacteria and lactobacilli. Jejunal villus height and villus:crypt ratio of birds fed the barley-based diet were the lowest when compared with those fed the other diets. Enzyme application induced an increase in villus height and villus:crypt ratio of birds on wheat, crypt depth on barley and a reduction in crypt depth of chickens on the sorghum-based diets. The highest activity of maltase and the lowest activity of sucrase were observed in tissue from birds fed on maize and sorghum-based diets respectively. The differences in the performance of broilers on cereal grains could be explained by changes in intestinal morphology, enzyme activities and gut microflora as well as nutrient digestibility. The improved performance by supplemental enzyme in wheat-fed chickens was associated with beneficial changes in intestinal morphology and digesta viscosity.
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