Probiotics can help turkeys maintain performance on nutrient-reduced diets, allowing producers to save on feed costs while limiting risk of intestinal disease.
A recent study, presented at the 2017 Turkey Science and Production Conference in the UK, demonstrated that supplementation with a probiotic containing Bacillus subtilis and B. licheniformis (BioPlus® YC) compensated for reductions in dietary energy, protein and amino acids — typically some of the costliest components of turkey diets.
According to Alfred Blanch, PhD — poultry consultant for Chr. Hansen and one of the study’s authors — the probiotic strains used in the study have been shown to produce a wide range of digestive enzymes that turkeys don’t naturally produce, allowing them to access and absorb more energy and nutrients from feed. This allows producers to maintain flock performance on nutrient-reduced diets, which means not only lower feed costs, but also potentially lower risk of digestive disturbance.
“Turkeys have high protein requirements, but many common sources of dietary protein are difficult for them to digest,” he explains. “This can result in increased protein fermentation in the lower gut, which has been linked to enhanced growth of pathogenic bacteria, such as Clostridium perfringens, as well as the production of ammonia and other substances that may negatively affect turkey performance.
“The probiotic strains in BioPlus® YC have been shown to increase the digestibility of energy, protein and amino acids. In addition to improving feed efficiency, this helps reduce the amount of undigested protein that enters the hindgut, thus helping to limit a common culprit of intestinal disease.”
The study was conducted in Poland in a total of 600 commercial male turkeys, which were randomly distributed into 40 pens containing 15 birds each. In each pen, all the birds were fed a standard diet or a diet with reduced energy, protein and amino acids, either with or without a dual-strain probiotic supplement containing Bacillus subitilis and B. licheniformis (BioPlus® YC) (Table 1).
All diets were formulated with recommended nutrient concentrations and without antibiotics, coccidiostats or additional feed additives. At regular intervals throughout the 180-day study, investigators evaluated average body weight, average daily weight gain (ADG) and feed conversion rate (FCR).
Results indicate that at the end of the 140-day study, there were no significant differences in body weight, ADG and feed intake among all experimental groups. However, within both the standard and nutrient-reduced diet groups, probiotic supplementation was found to significantly improve FCR (Table 2).
No difference in FCR was observed among turkeys fed the standard diets and those fed the nutrient-reduced diet plus BioPlus® YC, suggesting that the probiotic compensated for the reduction in energy, protein and amino acids. Results indicate that at the end of the 140-day study, there were no significant differences in body weight, ADG and feed intake among all experimental groups. However, within both the standard and nutrient-reduced diet groups, probiotic supplementation was found to significantly improve FCR.
The performance improvements observed in birds fed a nutrient-reduced diet plus BioPlus® YC are consistent with previous studies showing that the dual-strain probiotic improves carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism.
In addition, Blanch says, the probiotic strains have also been shown to work synergistically to inhibit pathogen growth in the gut and promote normal intestinal integrity and function.
Several published studies confirm that B. subtilis and B. licheniformis decrease the persistence of C. perfringens, Eimeria and Salmonella in the gastrointestinal tracts of poultry. B. licheniformis has also been linked to increased intestinal surface area (as indicated by increased villus length), which enables greater absorption of nutrients.
“As the poultry industry faces pressure to reduce antibiotic use, producers need new tools and strategies to keep their flocks healthy and their margins secure,” Blanch says. “The Bacillus strains used in this study work through several proven modes of action to increase digestibility, improve intestinal function and keep harmful pathogens in check. These well-documented benefits make BioPlus® YC a smart choice for commercial turkey production, with or without the use of antibiotics.”
To learn more about Chr. Hansen's range of probiotics for poultry, please visit chr-hansen.com/en/animal-health.