The best broiler chicken performance can be antibiotic-free
US feeding trials find an efficient alternative to antibiotic growth promoters for broiler chickens - HP AviStart from HAMLET PROTEIN
Antibiotic growth promoters are losing popularity in the USA, where consumers increasingly demand meat from animals fed antibiotic-free diets. New feeding trials with a specialty protein from HAMLET PROTEIN suggest that producers can overcome the antibiotic-free challenge and improve their profits at the same time.
The specialty protein in question is HP AviStart - a highly digestible soy protein for broiler starter feeds, produced by enzymatic co-processing of soybean meal and yeast.
Southern Poultry Research, based in Athens, Georgia, USA, conducted two performance trials, each one using 2,400 broilers, which were fed either a control or test starter diet for the first 14 days after hatching. Weight gain and feed conversion ratio (FCR) were calculated at key points during the growth period up to 42 days.
Questioning a popular tradition
While the first trial investigated the effect of HP AviStart in purely antibiotic-free starter diets based on soybean meal, the second compared HP AviStart with the commonly used antibiotic growth promoter BMD - or, by its full name, bacitracin methylene disalicylate.
In both trials, HP AviStart was seen to be an efficient alternative to antibiotic-dependent diets.
"Antibiotics have been popular growth promoters in poultry production because they work well in terms of improving FCR, mortality and average daily weight gain. They're also inexpensive, costing just a few dollars per ton of feed," says David Nelson, HAMLET PROTEIN's technical sales manager for poultry in the USA.
"The problem producers face is that large fast food chains and other restaurants are being driven by consumer demand to stop buying poultry that has been fed antibiotics, either in the form of a growth promoter or to treat sickness."
A specialty protein with no mystery
The interesting thing is that, despite many years of successful use, how antibiotic growth promoters actually work is still something of a mystery.
It's quite a different story with HP AviStart, Nelson explains.
"The digestive tract is highly immature at hatching. Unless feed is easy to digest, many nutrients will pass through the tract unabsorbed. What we have done with HP AviStart is to gently minimize the anti-nutritional factors naturally present in soy protein and, in doing so, remove the barriers to nutrient absorption.
"This means the chicks get the full benefit of the protein in their feed, stimulating the development of their gut and a lifetime of healthy growth."
In the first trial of antibiotic-free starter feeds, the broilers received feed with a 0%, 5% or 10% dose of HAMLET PROTEIN's specialty protein. The results show an improved FCR, average daily gain and end weight in those broilers that received feed supplemented with HP AviStart for the first 14 days. However, the 5% dose gave the best return on investment, giving up to 36g in extra weight and reducing FCR by four points.
Persuasive good performance
For producers who are still thinking about removing antibiotic growth promoters from their starter feed, the results of the second trial provide a persuasive argument for heading in that direction.
Here, the broiler chicks received a corn-soy feed with or without the antibiotic growth promoter BMD or, during the starter phase only, with HP AviStart. One group received a feed with both BMD and, in the starter phase, HP AviStart to evaluate the potential for any synergistic effect on performance.
The results show that 5% HP AviStart in the starter feed alone equaled the performance of BMD added at 50g per ton during the entire 42-day trial.
"Compared to the antibiotic-free control diet, we also saw that, once again, the starter feed with 5% HP AviStartresulted in extra weight gain and lower FCR at 42 days of age," Nelson remarks.
On the other hand, he continues, no synergistic effect was seen when BMD and HP AviStart were used together.
"This confirms that HP AviStart is both a viable alternative to antibiotic growth promoters and can help producers who are already antibiotic-free to regain lost growth and performance."
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Article made possible through the contribution of Hamlet Protein