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Promoting poultry health through diet
Date:2/25/2013

URBANA -- Developing strategies to increase the amount of saleable product while reducing dietary inputs is a priority for animal scientists. University of Illinois researchers have been looking at how dietary components affect gut health and disease resistance in chickens.

"An important nutritional outcome is how well an animal is able to digest and metabolize its diet," said Ryan Dilger.

Poultry and swine nutritionists are concerned about dietary fiber in alternative dietary ingredients, particularly the by-products of biofuel production. Fiber concentrations are very high in these ingredients because the starch content is removed during processing.

Dilger and his master's student Emma Wils-Plotz looked at how purified fiber fed to young chicks affects their dietary threonine (Thr) requirements, intestinal morphology, and ability to resist a disease challenge. Threonine is an essential amino acid accounting for as much as 11 percent of mucin, an important component of the mucus layer covering the intestine's absorptive surface, which promotes gut health by protecting the body against bacteria and digestive enzymes.

Previous research has suggested that mucin dynamics may be sensitive to Thr availability. Dilger and Wils-Plotz hypothesized that dietary Thr requirements would increase in the presence of two purified fiber sources, cellulose and pectin, which are natural components of many feed ingredients.

They fed diets containing purified cellulose, pectin, or silica sand (control) to chicks and found that body weight gain and feed efficiency (the conversion of feed into body-weight gain) were reduced when 7 percent supplemental pectin was added to the diet. Pectin creates a viscous environment in the gut that interfered with the birds' ability to access dietary nutrients, thus reducing growth performance. Feeding 7 percent purified cellulose did not provide any nutritional benefit.

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Contact: Susan Jongeneel
sjongene@illinois.edu
217-333-3291
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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