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Poult Sci. 2006 Apr;85(4):613-8.

Limited treatment with beta-1,3/1,6-glucan improves production values of broiler chickens challenged with Escherichia coli.

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USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Poultry Production and Product Safety Research, and Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 72701, USA.


The development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has led to a need for alternatives to antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention in poultry production. The helical polysaccharide beta-1,3/1,6-glucan is derived from the cell wall of Saccharomyces cervisiae and has immunomodulating activities. The objective of this study was to determine the ability of 2 supplementation programs with a commercial beta-1,3/1,6-glucan product to protect broiler chicks from experimental respiratory challenge with Escherichia coli. Chicks were housed in battery-brooders from 1 d of age and fed a standard starter diet or the same diet containing 20 g/ton (22 ppm) of purified beta-1,3/1,6-glucan either continuously (BG25d) or for only the first 7 d prior to challenge (BG7d). At d 7 one-half of the birds were inoculated in the thoracic air sac with 800 cfu of a serotype O2, nonmotile strain of E. coli. All surviving birds were necropsied at d 25. Body weight of survivors and feed conversion efficiency were protected from the adverse effects of E. coli challenge by BG7d but not by BG25d. Mortality was nominally decreased from 63% (control) to 53% in BG25d and 47% in BG7d, but these decreases were not significant. The relative weights of the liver and heart were increased, and the bursa of Fabricius relative weights were decreased by E. coli challenge, and these effects were modulated by beta-glucan treatment. Despite positive effects of BG7d in E. coli-challenged birds, the BW of nonchallenged birds was decreased by BG7d and BG25d. These results suggest that supplementation of broiler diets with beta-1,3/1,6-glucan may be valuable for decreasing production losses due to E. coli respiratory disease, but that the immune stimulation provided may also result in decreased production values under experimental battery conditions or for birds raised in an environment with minimal disease challenges.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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