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J Anim Sci Biotechnol. 2014 Sep 26;5(1):44. doi: 10.1186/2049-1891-5-44. eCollection 2014.

Effects of dietary tryptophan and stocking density on the performance, meat quality, and metabolic status of broilers.

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State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition, College of Animal Science and Technology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China.



Highly automated cage-rearing systems are becoming increasingly popular in China. However, a high stocking density can cause oxidative stress and decrease broiler performance. The tryptophan (TRP) derivative 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HT) has been shown to preserve membrane fluidity in birds suffering from oxidative stress. Therefore, this experiment was conducted to determine the effects of dietary TRP supplementation on performance, breast meat quality and oxidative stress in broilers reared in cages with a high or low stocking density.


Female Arbor Acres broilers (25-d-old, n = 144) were randomly allocated to 1 of 4 treatments. The birds were fed a diet based on corn, soybean meal, cottonseed meal and corn gluten meal containing either 0.18 or 0.27% TRP and were housed with stocking densities of 11 or 15.4 birds/m(2) in a 2 × 2 factorial experiment. Broiler performance was evaluated from d 25 to 42. Eight birds from each treatment were slaughtered on d 42 and plasma and breast muscle samples were collected to measure biochemical indices.


A higher stocking density tended to be associated with reduced weight gain (P < 0.10), and significantly increased plasma glutamic-pyruvic transaminase (GPT) activity (P < 0.001). Increased dietary TRP significantly reduced the activities of lactic dehydrogenase and GPT while increasing total cholesterol in the plasma (P < 0.01), reducing drip loss of breast muscle (P < 0.10) and improving feed efficiency (P < 0.10).


An increase in dietary TRP, 1.5-fold higher than the standard supplementation level, can alleviate oxidative stress as well as improve welfare and feed efficiency in broilers reared in cages with a high stocking density.


Broiler; Meat quality; Performance; Stocking density; Tryptophan

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