BACKGROUND: Exposure of broilers to litter microbiome may increase specific amino acid (AA) requirements towards activated immune responses. This may challenge the generality of the ideal protein (IP) concept, in which dietary essential AA to lysine ratios aimed to mimic presumably constant AA to lysine ratios in whole bird requirements. Therefore, we tested the effect of threonine, arginine and glutamine (TAG) supplementation to IP-based control diets (C) on performance, caecal microbiome composition, short-chain fatty acids and litter characteristics of broiler chickens placed on reused litter.
RESULTS: Thirty-two pens with ten male broiler chickens each were used in a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of two diet treatments (with or without TAG supplementation) and two litter treatments (placement on clean or reused litter) for 21 days (n = 8). Caecal contents were analysed for microbiome profile using percent guanine + cytosine (%G + C profile) method and short chain fatty acids. TAG-supplemented birds underperformed compared to C birds (P = 0.002), whereas birds placed on reused litter outperformed those on clean litter (P = 0.047). Diet, reused litter and their interaction impacted the %G + C profile at different ranges. Whilst TAG supplementation reduced bacterial abundance at %G + C 51-56 (P < 0.05), reused litter placement tended to reduce %G + C 23-31 and increase %G + C 56-59 (P < 0.10). However, TAG supplementation reduced bacterial abundance at %G + C 47-51 (P < 0.05) and increased caecal branched chain fatty acids on clean litter only (P = 0.025). Greater levels of propionic acid were observed for C birds placed on reused litter only (P = 0.008). Litter pH was greater for reused litter pens than clean litter pens at day 21 (P < 0.001). In addition, litter moisture content was less for TAG birds and reused litter pens compared to C birds (P = 0.041) and clean litter pens (P < 0.001), respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: These data support the view that irrespective of performance benefits arising from bird placement on reused litter, TAG supplementation to IP-formulated baseline rations impaired growth, supported by the lowered abundance of caecal bacteria known to dominate in well-performing birds and greater levels of caecal branched chain fatty acids.
- Amino acids
- Reused litter
- Ideal protein
- Growth performance
- Caecal microbiome
- Litter characteristics