More eggs through digestive microflora management
In a context of antibiotic reduction in feed, there is a need for natural, profitable and proven solutions for poultry production. Probiotic bacteria which exert a positive effect on the digestive microflora balance and gut development can help improve laying performance. The lactic acid bacteria Pediococcus acidilactici MA 18/5M, producing a high level of lactic acid, is one of the most studied probiotic bacteria with more than 40 scientific publications in monogastric feeding. Its modes of action are well-documented. This is confirmed by results obtained in farms and trials in commercial settings which consistently show benefits on laying performance, in particular through an improved laying rate, resulting from better feed conversion. In addition, probiotic benefits lead to improved poultry survival and egg quality, representing significant benefits for producers.
Probiotics are specific beneficial bacteria selected for their benefits in the host diet. The lactic acid producing bacteria P. acidilactici MA 18/5M is a well described probiotic strain*. It has the ability to produce important amounts of lactic acid in the gut of monogastric animals, and L+ lactic acid only (homofermentative bacteria). Its ability to survive the poultry digestive tract and remain alive for few days in feces has also been demonstrated. Its effects are translated into three major consequences for the animal:
1. Enhanced feed digestibility. P. acidilactici MA 18/5M produces important amounts of lactic acid from complex sugars present in the feed. This contributes to improve feed digestibility and increase feed efficiency: 1) because lactic acid is highly digestible (source of energy) and 2) because more sugar (a factor of viscosity) is transformed into lactic acid, viscosity of the feed is lower, facilitating enzyme access to break-down feed particles.
2. Improved gut microflora balance. Because P. acidilactici MA 18/5M produces lactic acid in the gut, it causes a local decrease of pH close to the gut surface (villi) creating a favorable environment for the development of beneficial bacteria and unfavorable for potential pathogenic bacteria such as coliforms, salmonella… The lactic bacteria compete with pathogens for nutrients, helping to keep them under control.
3. Enhanced gut maturity. P. acidilactici MA 18/5M supplementation increases the height of gut villi, thus increasing the gut absorption surface area. As a result, nutrients are better absorbed and feed digestibility is increased.
Altogether, these modes of action contribute to explain the unique effects of P. acidilactici MA 18/5M supplementation on layers digestive function and performance.
Figure 1: Effect of BACTOCELL supplementation on laying performance in various trials as compared to negative control diet.
Statistical analysis were performed on the results of four trials on a 24-week duration (from week 22 to 46): in average P. acidilactici MA 18/5M significantly increased the laying rate by 2.8% (p<0.05) and exported egg mass by 3.5% (p<0.01), equivalent to an extra 13.1g of egg/hen/week, or 131 Kg/ week for 10,000 hens.
This effect is linked to improved feed utilization with the probiotic, as shown by improved feed conversion rate (Figure 2). Similar statistical analysis indicate a reduced feed conversion rate equivalent to -0.07kg/kg.
In addition, trials typically show a positive effect on the laying curve: it is sustained and smoothen over the whole cycle. P. acidilactici MA 18/5M, supplemented during the whole cycle, improves laying persistence (Figure 3)
Figure 3: Typical laying curve in BACTOCELL® trial (free range hens, Alleman et al., 2011, France).
Altogether, by taking into account laying performance enhancements, the minimum return on investment for the producer has been evaluated at 3:1.
Figure 4: Effect of BACTOCELL supplementation on hens weekly mortality rates (%) (Morocco, 2012).
This benefit is linked to P. acidilactici MA 18/5M effects on the control of pathogens development, in the gut and consequently on the barn environment and the egg surface. Studies have shown that P. acidilactici MA 18/5M shifts gut microflora toward a more balanced profile under challenging conditions: reduced Clostridium perfringens., Salmonella typhimurium., Salmonella enteriditis, Escherichia coli.
These results were confirmed within various commercial farm settings and conditions through a large-scale field survey encompassing 39 commercial layer farms (in France). 22 of these farms supplemented their laying hens with P. acidilactici MA 18/5M while the 17 remaining ones did not include a probiotic in their feed. It also came out from this field survey that the hens receiving P. acidilactici MA 18/5M showed improved microflora ratio (Figure 5).
By helping controlling the digestive microflora, P. acidilactici MA 18/5M has positive consequences on the fecal microflora balance, which in turn help control environmental contamination by pathogens (the barn, air dust), as shown in the field surveys, creating a "virtuous cycle". A lower pathogen load in the feces in the barn is an interesting outcome in itself since it reduces the risks of cross-contaminations and sanitary risks for the consumer (egg contamination for example).
IN A NUTSHELL: Effects of P. acidilactici MA 18/5M on layers performance:
|Laying rate||2.80%||+7.7 eggs/hen/yr|
|FCR||-3.20%||- 0.07 Kg feed/Kg egg|
|Exported egg mass||3.50%||+13.1 g egg /hen/week|
|Additional benefits||Increased laying persistence|
|Improved eggshell quality: less broken eggs|
|Less downgraded eggs|
|Improved gut microflora|
In a context of increasing market pressure for antibiotic reduction in poultry farming and high feed costs, acceptable, scientifically-proven solutions to enhance feed conversion rate and layer performance are necessary. Lactic acid bacteria probiotic appears as an effective and sustainable solution to attain production goals and maintain poultry health and sanitary status all along the production cycle. It has beneficial influence on gut flora balance and maturity, enhancing basal digestive and gut barrier functions. Such impact at gut level came to act as an effective animal's performance booster offering better efficiency to the egg producer. In addition, extra benefits such as better resistance to pathogens and reduced mortality, but also improved egg quality (less broken and dirty eggs, reduced meat spots, thicker eggshell…), or improved feathering have been documented, which brings additional revenue to the farmer and better animal valorization at the end of the production cycle. These benefits have been officially recognized by the European Commission who registered the probiotic bacteria as a zootechnical feed additive for laying hens in March 2011 (Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003), based on some of the trials data presented in this article.
*Not all products are available in all markets nor all claims allowed in all regions. BACTOCELL® is produced in Lallemand's certified bacteria plants, guaranteeing products safety, quality, traceability and concentration of live bacteria. It is available in different forms: a powder destined to be mixed with mash feed, and a microencapsulated form (BACTOCELL®ME), in powder as well, designed for pellet applications, and a soluble form for use in drinking water sytems: BACTOCELL® DRINK. It is authorized by the European Union (EFSA) as a zootechnical feed additive in laying hens and broiler, as well as by
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Article made possible through the contribution of Amandine Cabot, Audrey Sacy and Lallemand Animal Nutrition (France)