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Abdelatty, A. M., M. I. Mandouh, S. A. Mohamed, S. Busato, O. A. M. Badr, M. Bionaz, A. A. Elolimy, M. M. A. Moustafa, O. A. A. Farid, and A. K. Al-Mokaddem, "Azolla leaf meal at 5% of the diet improves growth performance, intestinal morphology and p70S6K1 activation, and affects cecal microbiota in broiler chicken.", Animal : an international journal of animal bioscience, vol. 15, issue 10, pp. 100362, 2021. Abstract

With growing concern about including unconventional dietary protein sources in poultry diets to substitute the protein sources that are essential for human consumption such as soybean meal, Azolla leaf meal (ALM) has grown in popularity. In our prior experiment, ALM was used at inclusion rates of 5 and 10%. Five per cent inclusion of ALM increased broiler chicken growth performance, the concentration of cecal propionic acid, and activation of skeletal muscle p70S6 Kinase1 (p70S6K1) without having detrimental effects on the meat quality. Those results prompted us to further evaluate the effect of the same inclusion rates of ALM on phase feeding and intestine and liver health of the broiler chicks. The current study hypothesis is that dietary ALM positively affects phase feeding, intestinal morphology and p70S6K1 activation, cecal microbial gene expression, and improves the liver energy status. For this, we enrolled 135 one-day-old broiler chicks and collected growth performance data (starter, grower, and finisher stages) and samples of the gastrointestinal tract to analyse the morphology of the villi, immune-related organs, mucin, and abundance of intestinal p70S6K1. Cecal bacterial species were analysed using qPCR and liver samples were collected to analyse adenosine monophosphate (AMP) and ATP content and selected oxidative stress biomarkers. ALM increased BW and feed intake during the starter and grower phases but did not affect the feed conversion ratio. Liver oxidative stress and AMP: ATP ratio increased in chickens fed on a diet containing 10% ALM (AZ10; P < 0.05). Jejunum villi length and abundance of duodenal neutral mucin increased but villi of the ileum decreased in chickens fed on a diet containing 5% ALM (AZ5), while lymphoid follicle areas of the cecal tonsils decreased with both doses of ALM. Activation of p70S6K1 increased with AZ10 in the duodenum and AZ5 in the jejunum. In the gut, the family of Enterobacteriaceae decreased with both ALM doses. In conclusion, our results indicate an overall positive effect of dietary inclusion of ALM in the broiler chicken diet via its positive effect on intestinal morphology and function; however, a negative effect on the liver was observed with 10% ALM.