Probiotics. Enzymes. Fiber. Gut Health. While these are all buzz words in human health, they are also topics that are increasingly being studied in the animal industry to aid performance and health of livestock raised to produce protein for human consumption. Moreover, as the poultry industry moves away from subtherapeutic antibiotic growth promoters (AGP) usage, multiple technologies have been explored to protect the health of birds from pathogens, while still maintaining low feed cost and demonstrating consistency in improving growth and feed efficiency.
As an example, feed additives with probiotics and/or enzymes offer opportunities to improve the nutritive value of feed, to replace subtherapeutic levels of antibiotic growth promoters (AGP), and to reduce costs, while enhancing animal health and performance.
Specific to the poultry industry and broiler production, a study published in the international, peer-reviewed 2022 Veterinary Sciences open access journal evaluated the effect of a feed additive blend of multi-strain Bacillus spp. probiotics and a xylanase enzyme. This feed additive blend is called EnzaPro.
The researchers hypothesized that the combination of probiotic strains and xylanase could provide beneficial effects on the nutrition of both the animal host and gut microorganisms, as well as promote beneficial microflora in a symbiotic relationship. Specifically, this study was conducted to investigate the effect of probiotic and xylanase effect on live performance, gut lesions, environmental Clostridium perfringens load, and pathogen load in the digesta of broiler chickens raised on used litter and fed either corn- or wheat-based diets to 42 days of age.
A 2 × 2 factorial dietary treatments design, testing two levels of the feed additive blend (0 and 100 g/MT) with the two cereal grain types (corn and wheat) were used. Day-old chicks were randomly placed in 10 replicate pens per treatment with 52 birds per replicate and grown to 42 days of age. Data was analyzed by two-way ANOVA.
At 42 days of age, the researchers found benefits to the broilers fed the EnzaPro supplement. According to the research, “broilers fed EnzaPro were heavier (p < 0.0004) than nonsupplemented birds, and an improvement in feed conversion ratio (FCR) (p = 0.03) was observed by approximately two points in both corn and wheat-based diets supplemented with EnzaPro.” Additionally, among poultry fed the wheat-based diets, the researchers reported, “supplementing EnzaPro reduced (p < 0.0001) the 21-day lesion score of intestines with a further reduction (p < 0.02) by day 42.”
As well, the researchers observed that EnzaPro reduced (p < 0.03) litter moisture by approximately 1% compared to non-supplemented EnzaPro in both the corn and wheat-based diets. Pathogen load in digesta (C. perfringens, E. tenella, APC, and E. coli) was also reduced (p < 0.0002) when EnzaPro was supplemented in diets.
The researchers concluded supplementation of a combination of direct-fed microbials and xylanase at a level of 1 × 105 CFU/g feed and 10 XU/g feed, respectively, has beneficial effects when fed to broilers from day 1 to marketing at day 42 and while exposed to mild disease challenge, utilizing both Eimeria and C. perfringens.
The researchers believe the beneficial health effect to the broilers was due to the simultaneous introduction of the multi-strain Bacillus spp. probiotics and xylanase enzyme, regardless of the cereal grain used.
In the Veterinary Sciences published manuscript, the researchers explained that “Xylanase’s effect extends beyond simply reducing the viscosity of digesta to facilitate nutrient digestion and absorption.” They hypothesized the supplement combination created a prebiotic effect that indirectly promoted a healthy gut microflora which, in combination with the multi-strain probiotic used, provided an optimum ‘starter culture’ early in the birds’ lives. Ultimately, this aided in shaping a beneficial microflora to support the growth and health of broiler by day 21, according to the researchers.
From this study, the researchers concluded that when used in either corn or wheat-based diets, the EnzaPro blend of DFM Bacillus spp (1 × 105 CFU/g feed) and xylanase (10 XU/g feed)) may improve the performance and gut health of broilers.