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Synbiotic Product Helps Combat Transport Stress

01 August 2009

Biomin

Feeding of Biomin Imbo modulates the stress indicator of transported birds and enhances tolerance to stress after pre-slaughter handling and transportation, according to research recently published by Ghareeb and Böhm of the University of Vienna.

There is a growing interest concerning the welfare problems associated with harvesting, transportation and pre-slaughter handling of broilers, according to Ghareeb and Böhm in the introduction to their paper recently published in the International Journal of Poultry Science.

They continue that transportation is a multi-factorial process associated with a variety of stressors that may adversely affect broiler welfare. Previously published research shows that plasma corticosterone is elevated following transportation, which is consistent with the post-transport increase of heterophil: lymphocyte ratios (H/L ratios). Plasma corticosterone was compared with H/L ratio responses to various stressors and the latter was the better indicator of stress in poultry.

In their study at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, Ghareeb and Böhm evaluated stress responses in broiler chickens fed for five weeks on diets supplemented with a synbiotic product (Biomin IMBO; a combination of Enterococcus faecium, a prebiotic derived from chicory and an immune-modulating substance derived from sea algae. The dose rates were 1 kg per ton in the starter diets and 0.5 kg per ton of the grower diets.

The birds were subjected to 80 km journey, taking approximately one and a half hours.

Heterophil (H) counts, lymphocyte (L) counts and heterophil:lymphocyte (H/L) ratio were determined immediately on arrival and 24 hours after transportation.

H counts, L counts and H/L ratios immediately up on arrival for both dietary and control groups are shown in (Table 1).

H counts were numerically lower for synbiotic treated group than control group, while the L counts were numerically higher for the synbiotic-treated group.

The H/L ratio were 17 per cent lower for the synbiotic group (1.09 per cent) compared with the control group (1.18 per cent).

These results indicate that addition of synbiotic to diets of broilers could help to overcome stress due to transportation with less physiological response.

Table 1. H counts, L counts and H/L ratio immediately after transportation
The results are presented as means±SEM (Independent samples t-test)
  Dietary treatment  
Parameter Control
(n=10)
Synbiotic
(n=10)
P value
Heterophils (H) % 49 ± 3 48 ± 1 0.281
Lymphocytes (L) % 43 ± 2 45 ± 4 0.564
H/L ratio 1.18 ± 0.11 1.09 ± 0.1 0.639

Transportation stress produced substantial increase in H counts after 24 hours for control birds but this did not occur for the synbiotic-treated group.

H counts were numerically lower for synbiotic treated group than the control group (Table 2), while L counts were numerically higher for synbiotic group than the with control group.

Furthermore the H/L ratio was around 17 per cent lower for synbiotic-supplemented group (0.99 per cent) than the control group (1.16 per cent) indicating that the feed supplement enable the birds to overcome the stressors with less physiological responses.

Table 2. H counts, L counts and H/L ratio 24 hours after transportation
The results are presented as means±SEM (Independent samples t-test)
  Dietary treatment  
Parameter Control
(n=5)
Synbiotic
(n=5)
P value
Heterophils (H) % 51 ± 2 43 ± 5 0.249
Lymphocytes (L) % 45 ± 2 47 ± 4 0.593
H/L ratio 1.16 ± 0.10 0.99 ± 0.2 0.538

From their results, Ghareeb and Böhm concluded, "Feeding of Biomin Imbo modulates the stress indicator of transported birds and enhances tolerance to stress after pre-slaughter handling and transportation."

Reference

Ghareeb K. and J. Böhm. 2009. Stress indicators to pre-slaughter transportation of broiler chickens fed diets supplemented with a synbiotic. International Journal of Poultry Science 8 (7): 621-625.

Further Reading

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July 2009



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