Effects of Dietary Additives and Early Feeding on Performance, Gut Development and Immune Status of Broiler Chickens Challenged with Clostridium perfringens

  • Ao, Z. (The Seasons, Wangjing, Chaoyang Disctrict) ;
  • Kocher, A. (Alltech Biotechnology P/L) ;
  • Choct, M. (School of Environmental and Rural Science, University of New England)
  • Received : 2011.10.20
  • Accepted : 2011.12.15
  • Published : 2012.04.01


The effects of dietary additives and holding time on resistance and resilience of broiler chickens to Clostridium perfringens challenge were investigated by offering four dietary treatments. These were a negative control (basal), a positive control (Zn-bacitracin) and two dietary additives, mannanoligosaccharides (MOS), and acidifier. Two holding times included (a) immediate access to feed and water post hatch (FED) and (b) access to both feed and water 48 h post hatch (HELD). Chicks fed Zn-bacitracin had no intestinal lesions attributed to necrotic enteritis (NE), whereas chicks fed both MOS or acidifier showed signs of NE related lesions. All dietary treatments were effective in reducing the numbers of C. perfringens in the ileum post challenge. The FED chicks had heavier body weight and numerically lower mortality. The FED chicks also showed stronger immune responses to NE challenge, showing enhanced (p<0.05) proliferation of T-cells. Early feeding of the MOS supplemented diet increased (p<0.05) IL-6 production. The relative bursa weight of the FED chicks was heavier at d 21 (p<0.05). All the additives increased the relative spleen weight of the HELD chicks at d 14 (p<0.05). The FED chicks had increased villus height and reduced crypt depth, and hence an increased villus/crypt ratio, especially in the jejunum at d 14 (p<0.05). The same was true for the HELD chicks given dietary additives (p<0.05). It may be concluded that the chicks with early access to dietary additives showed enhanced immune response and gut development, under C. perfringens challenge. The findings of this study shed light on managerial and nutritional strategies that could be used to prevent NE in the broiler industry without the use of in-feed antibiotics.


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