By Anée Berg-Kehlet, Product Manager
A new study shows that adding Lactiferm® WS (Enterococcus faecium) to drinking water markedly improves broiler livability, growth performance and meat quality.
The European field trial, which my poultry team colleagues and I presented recently at the International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta, was conducted under commercial conditions in a total of 840 broilers. The birds were divided evenly between two groups: one served as control, and the other received water-additive Lactiferm® WS at varying concentrations throughout the 42-day growth period, based on the volume of water they were expected to drink (Table 1).
All birds were given unlimited water and standard wheat, corn and soy-based diets, which were formulated to the broilers’ nutritional requirements. At the end of the study, seven birds from each group were fasted for six hours and slaughtered to determine protein content and cooking loss.
Results show that in the Lactiferm® WS group, losses prior to slaughter were 2.1%, significantly less than control (6.7%). Losses due to digestive disturbances were also significantly lower, so more birds reached slaughter weight with higher carcass quality.
Birds supplemented with Lactiferm® WS also showed improved growth performance and feed efficiency throughout all production phases, attaining significantly (+12.8%) better mean body weight by day 42 (Figure 1).
Carcass quality was also markedly better in birds treated with Lactiferm® WS, as indicated by significantly lower cooking losses (31.8%, compared to 34.6% for control) and significantly higher protein content (760.9 g/kg of dry matter, compared to 701.6 g/kg of dry matter for control).
Increase lactic acid, enhance gut function
The improved performance, survival rates and carcass quality of broilers treated with Lactiferm® WS may, partly be due to higher intestinal concentrations of lactic acid. The bacterial strain in the product, E. faecium, is a type of lactic acid bacteria, which, by definition, produces lactic acid as the major metabolic end-product of carbohydrate fermentation. When lactic acid production in the gut increases, pH decreases, thereby making the gut less hospitable to harmful bacteria.
Unlike our bacillus-based products, E. faecium is not spore-forming and therefore less heat stable, so it is better suited to combination with water or mixed in feed after heat treatment. However, this also means that the probiotic bacteria grow faster and are more readily available to the host.