A study carried out in the UK tested the effect of a direct fed microbial (DFM) on the performance of broilers compared to an antibiotic growth promoter under large scale, commercial production settings.
Three dietary treatments were tested in a completely randomised design including: 1) a control (C) diet containing 500 FTU/kg phytase and a mixture of xylanase, amylase, protease ; 2) C+ a specific three-strain combination of Bacillus spp. (DFM) and 3) C+ bacitracin methylene disalicylate (BMD). Six, similar commercial broiler houses (15,300 birds per house) were used to give two replicate houses per treatment. The birds (Hubbard x Cobb500) were fed pelleted and crumbled diets ad libitum throughout the 44 day trial period. Due to the large scale, commercial nature of the trial, no significant differences were observed in production parameters among treatments, except that DFM treatment resulted in significantly lower mortality numbers in the last two days (43 to 44d) compared to the control.
However, the DFM treatment group showed numerically higher live bodyweight, lower feed conversion ratio (corrected for body weight and mortality) and lower total mortality weight compared to either the control or BMD groups, resulting in an improved production efficiency factor. When compared to control, using DFM resulted in a gross benefit of US$ 0.06 /bird, while using BMD was not cost effective.
In conclusion, DFM containing a three-strain combination of Bacillus spp. may be used as an alternative to antibiotic growth promoters, resulting in economic benefit under commercial production settings in broilers fed commercial diets.
Full title of study: A direct fed microbial containing a combination of three-strain Bacillus sp. can be used as an alternative to feed antibiotic growth promoters in broiler production
Yueming Dersjant-Li, A. Awati, C. Kromm and C. Evans
The study is free to read on Cambridge Journals.