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Effect of Humic and Butyric Acid on Performance and Mortality in Broilers

18 August 2014

During periods of high temperatures particularly, broilers fed a mixture of humic acid (MFG) and protected butyric acid demonstrated better growth and feed efficiency as well as lower mortality than others receiving no feed additives, according to new research from the US.

Evaluating natural compounds as a way of enhancing performance and reducing mortality in broilers is important for the poultry industry, suggest Michael Edmonds of Kent Nutrition Group and others with Grain Processing Corporation and Nuriad. 

In the current issue of Journal of Applied Poultry Research, they describe four experiments involving 1,668 male Ross 708 broilers conducted to determine the effect of humic acid (MFG) and protected butyric acid (PBA) on performance and death loss throughout the starter and grower-finisher periods.

Experiments 1 and 2 (conducted in early summer and late summer and fall) had between four and six treatments with MFG and PBA fed alone or in combination with 10 or 12 broilers per pen, resulting in 0.22 and 0.18 square metres per bird, respectively.

The combination of MFG and PBA significantly improved performance and livability in experiment 1, but had no effect in experiment 2.

Experiments 3 (early summer) and 4 (middle of summer) had 20 broilers per pen (0.11 square metres per bird). Treatments for experiments 3 and 4 were:

  1. control
  2. control + MFG (4 and 2 lb per ton for starter and grower-finisher, respectively)
  3. control + MFG (4 and 2 lb per ton) + PBA (0.66 and 0.33 lb per ton) for starter and grower-finisher, respectively, and
  4. control + MFG (4 and 2 lb per ton) + PBA (1.1 and 0.55 lb per ton).

No significant performance differences were observed in experiment 3.

In contrast, broilers on treatment 4 in experiment 4 had significant responses in average daily gain and feed conversion ratio, along with lower mortality in extremely hot weather, compared with treatment 1, for the overall period (days 0 to 45.

Based on these data, Edmonds and co-authors concluded that, especially during heat stress, broilers fed a mixture of MFG and PBA have improved growth and feed efficiency along with lower mortality.


Edmonds M.S., S. Johal and S. Moreland. 2014. Effect of supplemental humic and butyric acid on performance and mortality in broilers raised under various environmental conditions. J. Appl. Poult. Res. 23: 260-267. doi: 10.3382/japr.2013-00901

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.

August 2014

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