Effects of a protease and essential oils on growth performance, blood cell profiles, nutrient retention, ileal microbiota, excreta gas emission, and breast meat quality in broiler chicks

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Abstract

A total of 360 Ross male broiler chicks (39.8 ± 1.8 g) were used in a five week experiment to determine the effect of a protease and essential oils (EO) on growth performance, blood cell profile, nutrient retention, ileal microbiota, excreta gas emission, and breast meat quality in broiler chicks. Broiler chicks were randomly allotted to four dietary treatments with 15 birds/cage and six cages/treatment. Experimental treatments were arranged as a 2 × 2 factorial with two levels of protease (0 and 0.02%) and two levels of EO (0 and 0.03%). For days 8 to 21 and overall, body weight gain and the feed conversion ratio were better in broilers fed diets supplemented with protease (P < 0.05) than in those fed diets without protease supplementation. Protease and/or EO increased (P < 0.05) the total tract retention of dry matter, nitrogen, or gross energy, and decreased the excreta ammonia gas emission. In addition, there was a significant interaction between the protease and EO on total tract retention of nitrogen and excreta ammonia gas emission (P < 0.05). The density of ileal Lactobacillus increased and Escherichia coli decreased in broilers (P < 0.05) by the addition of EO to the diet. There were no significant differences in the measurements of breast meat quality and organ weight of broilers fed diets with protease or EO. In conclusion, diets with a combination of a protease and EO improved total tract retention of nitrogen and excreta ammonia gas emission in growing broiler chicks.

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