R. Bras. Zootec.. 01/May/2016;45(5):257-64.
Effect of litter treatment on growth performance, intestinal development, and selected cecum microbiota in broiler chickens
The objective of this study was to determine whether the type of bedding materials (sand, wood shavings, and paper) and of two chemical amendments (lime and bentonite) could interfere with litter quality (moisture, pH, and total bacterial counts), thereby influencing also the growth performance and the development of intestinal traits and cecum microbiota of chickens. Two hundred and seventy male Ross 308 broiler chickens were randomly assigned into nine treatment groups with three replicates per treatment. Broiler productive parameters, relative weight of different intestinal segments, content of cecal total bacterial counts (total aerobic bacteria, Lactobacilli, and coliforms), as well as litter moisture, pH, and total aerobic bacteria and coliforms counts, were assessed. Litter material, per se, did not significantly affect the productivity parameters at the end of the experimental period (42 days) with the exception of protein efficiency. A significant trend was found among treatments with regard to weight gain and feed intake, with lower performance in birds on sand beddings. Litter pH was relatively homogenous between bedding types and amendments, but the moisture was significantly lower when sand was used. Litter type did not influence the relative weight of the different intestinal segments; however, the type of amendment affected the relative jejunum weight, which was increased in bentonite-treated litter. The use of lime and bentonite treatments may be helpful to decrease the differences in litter moisture associated with particular bedding materials. The tested amendments do not interfere with the productive performance of birds.