Poultry producers are faced with challenge of producing poultry products without using preventive antibiotics. Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) is a protein that regulates cell growth, differentiation, maturation and healing. Exogenous EGF promotes intestinal development in mice, rabbits and pigs but studies in poultry are scarce. This study’s objective was to evaluate effects of EGF on organ development and growth performance in broiler chickens. A total of 912, d old male Ross 708 chicks were placed in floor pens (19 birds/pen) based on body weight (BW). Pens were assigned to 1 of 6 treatments: A- positive control with antibiotic and coccidiostat, B- negative control; no additive, C- Culture media used for EGF fermentation but free of EGF, D- 160μg/kg BW/d EGF, E- 320μg/kg BW/d EGF and F- 640μg/kg BW/d EGF. Treatments were incorporated in a common starter diet and fed ad lib. On d10, BW and feed intake (FI) were taken for BW gain (BWG) and feed conversion ratio (FCR) and 2 birds/pen necropsied for organ weight measurements. A common grower/ finisher diet was fed from d 11 to 35. On d 35, 2 birds/pen were necropsied for breast yield. Data was analysed as one-way ANOVA in R (3.5.2). In the starter phase, BWG of EGF fed birds was similar (P>0.05) to A and B birds. However, diet C birds had higher BWG (P=0.005) than B. EGF320μg birds had a lower (P<0.0001) feed intake than C, but similar to other treatments (P>0.05). Treatments had no (P>0.05) effect on overall (d 0-35) growth performance. EGF640μg birds had higher (P=0.015) small intestine weight than C whilst other treatments were intermediate. Gizzard, spleen, liver and breast weights were not affected (P>0.05) by treatments. Treatment C birds had larger (P=0.01) bursas relative to EGF320 μg birds. In conclusion, EGF did not affect overall growth performance and intestinal organ development. EGF effects are reportedly more apparent on damaged epithelial cells hence the need to evaluate effects in a disease-challenge model.
Key Words: EGF, antibiotics, broilers.
Published in the proceedings of the Animal Nutrition Conference of Canada 2020. For information on the event, past and future editions, check out https://animalnutritionconference.ca/.