Probiotics and Essential Oils as AGP Alternatives in Poultry

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21 Apr 2024

Revolutionizing Poultry Production: Probiotics and Essential Oils as AGP Alternatives

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In an era marked by escalating global demand for chicken meat production, the poultry industry faces a complex array of challenges. Notably, the sector grapples with the pressing issues of antimicrobial resistance and the growing consumer preference for antibiotic-free products. These challenges necessitate innovative solutions to ensure the industry’s sustainability and meet evolving market demands.

Investigating Alternative Solutions

Recognizing the urgency of these challenges, the following study aimed to explore alternative strategies for poultry production. Specifically, the focus of this research was to evaluate the efficacy of probiotics and essential oils as substitutes for traditional antimicrobial growth promoters (AGP). By examining their impact on broiler chicken growth performance and excreta microbiota composition, the study aimed to provide insights into sustainable practices that align with industry demands and consumer preferences.

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Experimental Design and Treatments

Employing a rigorous complete randomized block design, the study included 320 male Cobb 500 broiler chickens. These were allocated into four distinct experimental groups, each representing a unique dietary treatment:

  1. Basal Diet (Negative Control): Serving as the benchmark, this group received the standard diet without any additional supplementation.
  2. Basal Diet + Bacillus Subtilis Probiotic: This group received the standard diet supplemented with a probiotic containing Bacillus subtilis strains, aimed at promoting beneficial microbial growth in the chicken gut.
  3. Basal Diet + Essential Oils Blend: In this group, the standard diet was enriched with a blend of essential oils derived from natural sources, intended to confer antimicrobial and immune-modulating properties.
  4. Basal Diet + Bacitracin Methylene Disalicylate (BMD): Serving as a reference point, this group received the standard diet supplemented with BMD, a commonly used AGP in poultry diets.

Key Findings

The findings of the study unveiled several significant insights:

  • Probiotic supplementation emerged as a standout performer, demonstrating a notable improvement in feed conversion ratio (FCR) compared to the AGP group. This underscores the potential of probiotics as effective alternatives for enhancing growth performance in broiler chickens.
  • Excreta microbiota analysis revealed the dynamic nature of microbial diversity and composition, with age identified as a key determinant. Throughout the 21-day experiment, fluctuations in microbial profiles underscored the intricate interplay between dietary interventions and microbial dynamics within the chicken gut.
  • Notably, probiotic supplementation exerts a discernible influence on microbial composition, fostering the proliferation of beneficial Firmicutes taxa such as Lachnospiraceae and Fecalibacterium. These findings underscore the role of probiotics in shaping the gut microbiome towards a profile conducive to intestinal health and enhanced growth performance.
  • While essential oils supplementation did not yield significant improvements in growth performance compared to other treatments, it nonetheless elicited changes in excreta microbiota composition. This suggests the potential of essential oils to modulate microbial communities within the chicken gut, albeit to a lesser extent than probiotics.

Implications and Future Directions

The implications of these findings are far-reaching, signaling a paradigm shift towards sustainable and consumer-centric poultry production practices. By showcasing the efficacy of probiotics as viable alternatives to traditional AGP, this study opens avenues for adopting holistic approaches to poultry health and nutrition. Moving forward, further research is imperative to unravel the underlying mechanisms driving these effects and to elucidate their broader implications for the poultry industry’s quest for sustainability and resilience in the face of evolving challenges.

Source: “Ana Fonseca, Sophia Kenney, Emily Van Syoc, Stephanie Bierly, Francisco Dini-Andreote, Justin Silverman, John Boney, Erika Ganda, Investigating antibiotic free feed additives for growth promotion in poultry: effects on performance and microbiota. Poultry Science,Volume 103, Issue 5,
2024, 103604, ISSN 0032-5791, (”

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