Effect of dietary β-alanine supplementation on growth performance, meat quality, carnosine content, and gene expression of carnosine-related enzymes in broilers
The objective of the current study was to investigate the effect of dietary β-alanine supplementation on growth performance, meat quality, antioxidant ability, carnosine content, and gene expression of carnosine-related enzymes in broiler chicks. We randomly assigned 540 1-day-old Arbor Acres broilers to 5 dietary treatments supplemented with 0 (control group), 250, 500, 1,000, or 2,000 mg/kg of β-alanine (mg β-alanine per kg feed). Each treatment included 6 replicates of 18 birds. The feeding trial lasted for 42 d. Dietary β-alanine supplementation linearly and quadratically increased the average daily gain (ADG) during the starting period (d 1 to 21, P = 0.02 and P = 0.002). The feed conversion ratio (FCR) decreased quadratically in response to dietary β-alanine supplementation during the starting and entire periods (P < 0.001 and P = 0.003, respectively). For the entire period, the predicted best FCR would be achieved when β-alanine was fed at a level of 1,100 mg/kg from quadratic regression. The concentrations of carnosine and β-alanine in breast muscle increased quadratically with dietary β-alanine supplementation (d 42, P < 0.001 and P = 0.001, respectively). The predicted dietary β-alanine level for highest breast carnosine content was 1,196 mg/kg. Dietary supplementation with β-alanine reduced the taurine concentrations in plasma (d 42, linear and quadratic, P < 0.001). Breast muscle yield increased linearly and quadratically in response to dietary β-alanine addition (d 21, P = 0.017 and P = 0.007). Dietary supplementation with β-alanine quadratically reduced the shear force (P = 0.003), whereas a*45 min and a*24 h values increased quadratically in response to dietary β-alanine supplementation (d 42, P = 0.020 and P = 0.021, respectively). Dietary β-alanine addition quadratically enhanced the expression of carnosine synthase and taurine transporter mRNAs (P < 0.05). Overall, dietary β-alanine supplementation improved growth performance and carnosine content, ameliorated antioxidant capacity and meat quality, and upregulated the gene expression of carnosine synthesis-related enzymes in broiler chicks.