Effect of humic acids on intestinal viscosity, leaky gut and ammonia excretion in a 24 hr feed restriction model to induce intestinal permeability in broiler chickens

Published on: 12/20/2019
Author/s : Jesus A. Maguey-Gonzalez 1,2; Matias A. Michel 3; Mikayla F.A. Baxter 4; Guillermo Tellez Jr. 4; Philip A. Moore Jr. 5; Bruno Solis-Cruz 1; Daniel Hernández-Patlan 1; Ruben Merino-Guzman 6; Xochitl Hernandez-Velasco 6; Juan D. Latorre 4; Billy M. Hargis 4; Sergio Gomez-Rosales 2; Guillermo Tellez-Isaias 4.

Author details:

1 Facultad de Estudios Superiores Cuautitlan, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico; 2 National Center of Disciplinary Research in Animal Physiology, National Institute of Research in Forestry, Agriculture and Livestock, Ajuchitlan, Queretaro, Mexico; 3 Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad Nacional del Nordeste, Corrientes, Argentina; 4 Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA; 5 USDA–ARS, Poultry Production and Product Safety Research Unit, Plant Science 115, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA; 6 Departamento de Medicina y Zootecnia de Aves, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, UNAM, Mexico City, Mexico.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of humic acids (HA) on intestinal viscosity, leaky gut and ammonia excretion in a 24 hr feed restriction (FR) model to induce intestinal permeability in chickens. One-day-old male Cobb-Vantress broilers were randomly allocated to one of two groups (n = 25 chickens), with or without 0.2% of isolated HA from worm-compost, and placed in brooder batteries. Chicks had ad libitum access to water and feed for 14 days. Intestinal permeability was induced by 24 hr FR starting at 14 days. At 15 days of age, chickens in both groups were given an appropriate dose of fluorescein isothiocyanate dextran (FITCd) by oral gavage. Intestine and liver samples were also collected to evaluate viscosity and bacterial translocation (BT), respectively. An increase (p < .05) in intestinal viscosity was observed in the experimental group consuming 0.2% of HA and was confirmed in a published in vitro digestion model that simulates the chemical and physical conditions of the crop, proventriculus and intestine of chickens. Furthermore, the treated group also showed a significant reduction in FITC-d, liver BT and ammonia in the manure. These results suggest that HA have a positive impact in intestinal integrity in chickens.

Keywords: ammonia, chicken, humic acids, intestinal permeability, intestinal viscosity.


Abstract published in Animal Science Journal 2018 Jul;89(7):1002-1010. doi: 10.1111/asj.13011.

Soil Chemist. He discovered that alum (aluminum sulfate) addition to litter reduces phosphorus runoff from fields by as much as 87%. Later research showed that alum would reduce ammonia volatilization from poultry litter more effectively than products currently being sold for this purpose. Subsequent studies conducted in commercial broiler houses have shown that chickens grown on alum-treated litter are significantly heavier than those grown on normal litter, with differences large enough to pay for the alum.
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