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Poult Sci. 2009 Dec;88(12):2474-81. doi: 10.3382/ps.2008-00381.

Influence of different litter materials on cecal microbiota colonization in broiler chickens.

Author information

1
South Australian Research and Development Institute, Plant and Soil Health, Urrbrae 5064, South Australia, Australia. valeria.torok@sa.gov.au

Abstract

A chicken growth study was conducted to determine if litter type influenced gut microbiota and performance in broilers. Seven bedding materials were investigated and included soft and hardwood sawdust, softwood shavings, shredded paper, chopped straw, rice hulls, and reused softwood shavings. Microbial profiling was done to investigate changes in cecal bacterial communities associated with litter material and age. Cecal microbiota were investigated at 14 and 28 d of age (n = 12 birds/litter material). At both ages, the cecal microbiota of chickens raised on reused litter was significantly (P < 0.05) different from that of chickens raised on any of the other litter materials, except softwood shavings at d 28. Cecal microbiota was also significantly different between birds raised on shredded paper and rice hulls at both ages. Age had a significant influence on cecal microbiota composition regardless of litter material. Similarity in cecal microbial communities among birds raised on the same litter treatment was greater at 28 d of age (29 to 40%) than at 14 d of age (25 to 32%). Bird performance on the different litter materials was measured by feed conversion ratio, live weight, and feed intake. Significant (P < 0.05) differences were detected in live weight at 14 d of age and feed intake at 14 and 28 d of age among birds (n = 160/treatment) raised on some of the different litter materials. However, no significant (P > 0.05) differences were observed in feed conversion ratio among birds raised on any of the 7 different litter materials at either 14 or 28 d of age. The type of litter material can influence colonization and development of cecal microbiota in chickens. Litter-induced changes in the gut microbiota may be partially responsible for some of the significant differences observed in early rates of growth; therefore, litter choice may have an important role in poultry gut health particularly in the absence of in-feed antibiotics.

PMID:
19903943
DOI:
10.3382/ps.2008-00381
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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