The impact of β-glucans on performance and response of broiler chickens during a coccidiosis challenge

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Coccidiosis is a costly parasitic disease to the poultry industry with multiple prevention methods being explored to control its impact. This study evaluated the feeding effects of β-glucans on performance and responses of chickens during a coccidiosis challenge. Cobb 500 male broilers (n = 1280) were assigned to 1 of 8 treatment groups (8 replicate pens; 20 birds/pen) in a 2 × 4 factorial arrangement, including non-infected and Eimeria-infected birds fed for 28 d a control diet, control + BG (150 g/MT Algamune 50), control + BGZn (100 g/MT Algamune 50 Zn), and control + 0.01% Salinomycin (Sal). On d15, birds in the challenge groups received a mixed Eimeria inoculum. Birds and feed were weighed weekly on a per pen basis to evaluate body weight gain (BWG), feed intake (FI), and feed conversion ratios (FCR). Lesion scores were assessed 6 d post infection (d21) on 3 birds per pen. Performance data were subjected to ANOVA and differences were established using the LS-MEANS statement with significance reported at P ≤ 0.05. There were minor differences in lesion scores among the dietary treatments in the infected groups with reduced duodenal and cecal scores in the Sal group compared to the BGZn and BG groups, respectively. The coccidiosis challenge main effect resulted in a significant reduction in 0-28 d BW and FI. Dietary treatment resulted in non-significant effect on BWG, but Sal addition resulted in increased FI. A significant diet X challenge interaction resulted in higher FCR in the Eimeria-challenged birds supplemented with Sal and BGZn in comparison to the other challenged groups, likely due to reduced mortality in the challenged Sal and BGZn groups. Body composition analysis at d28 revealed that the Eimeria challenge reduced both fat and lean tissue contents, where the β-glucans and Sal birds had lower fat percent than control birds.

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