Coarse particle inclusion and lignocellulose-rich fiber addition in feed benefit performance and health of broiler chickens
Measures to improve gut health and nutrient digestibility have been sought due to in-feed antibiotics being phased out in poultry. The appropriate physical structure of feed ingredients and addition of dietary fiber may be beneficial in enhancing gut health in poultry. In this study, the effect of a lignocellulose-rich fiber source and corn particle size on broiler performance, gizzard development, nutrient digestibility, cecal microflora, and litter quality was evaluated. A total of 684 day-old male Ross 308 chicks were randomly allocated to 6 treatments with 6 replicate pens, each housing 19 birds. A 2 × 3 factorial arrangement of treatments was applied with the factors of: corn particle size (coarse: 2,982 μm or fine: 941 μm geometric mean diameter), and 3 levels of lignocellulose (0%, 1% or 2%). Significant particle size × fiber interaction was observed for feed conversion ratio (FCR) at d 10 (P < 0.05). The birds fed coarsely ground corn (CGC) had lower FCR than those fed finely ground corn (FGC) only at 2% of lignocellulose but not at 1% or no lignocellulose addition. Birds fed FGC were heavier (P < 0.001) at d 10. In contrast, at d 24 and 35, birds fed CGC had lower FCR than those fed FGC (P < 0.05). Ileal gross energy and protein digestibility increased in birds fed CGC compared with those fed FGC at d 24 (P < 0.05). Relative gizzard weight was higher (P < 0.05) on d 24 and 35 in birds fed CGC as compared to those fed FGC. Birds consumed 2% dietary lignocellulose had decreased counts of cecal Clostridium spp. compared to those with 1% lignocellulose (P < 0.05) at d 24. On d 35, both levels of lignocellulose had significantly decreased (P < 0.05) litter moisture content compared to the control. In conclusion, birds fed pelleted diets containing CGC exhibited improved FCR, and increased nutrient digestibility, which may have been caused by larger gizzards. Furthermore, dietary lignocellulose addition is beneficial to litter quality.