Better gut health, higher nutrient uptake

Lin Wang, Global Program Manager Poultry, Phileo by Lesaffre


“Free from hunger and thirst” is the first of the five freedoms of animal welfare. Poultry producers are making enormous efforts to give their birds the best possible diet. However, the price of cereals keeps rising worldwide. Feed efficiency and gut health are playing an unprecedented key role in today’s poultry nutrition.


Antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) used to be efficient tools in poultry nutrition to maintain gut health and reach an adequate feed conversion ratio (FCR). The global reduction of antibiotics provides an opportunity for poultry producers to choose more sustainable and healthier solutions for their birds, as well as for consumers. Within this new generation of nutritional tools, yeast postbiotics have constantly demonstrated their excellent effects on gut morphology and feed efficiency.

Postbiotic, new definition, relevant efficacy


According to the International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), a postbiotic is a “preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers a health benefit on the host.” The reference yeast postbiotic, Safmannan (hereafter called ‘the reference postbiotic’), developed by Phileo by Lesaffre is a particularly good example of a postbiotic, according to the ISAPP’s definition.


Obtained from primary culture and the purification of a selected Saccharomyces cerevisiae proprietary strain, the reference postbiotic is rich in mannan-oligosaccharides and beta-glucans (1.3 and 1.6). More than one hundred studies were conducted to investigate and confirm the efficacy of the reference postbiotic in poultry. These in vitro and in vivo trials demonstrated that the reference postbiotic has consistent positive effects on gut morphology, and cellular and humoral immunity. It reduces pathogen translocation and enhances gut microbiota modulation. The reference postbiotic helps birds to better absorb nutrients, and to reach optimum FCR and growth performance.


Improved gut morphology elicits better growth


During a 43-day comparative trial, Morales et al. found that broilers supplemented with the reference postbiotic have significantly improved villus morphology and consequently, better growth than those in the control group. During this experiment, at D23, 3 chickens from each pen were humanely euthanized, then ileal digesta samples were taken to determine intestinal mucosa morphology. Compared to the control group, birds in the reference postbiotic group had significant increased villus height (P<0.0001), mucus thickness (P<0.0001) and number of goblet cells (P<0.0001), see Table 1.


The mucus gel layer is a physical barrier of the intestine that plays a key role in protection, lubrification mucosa-associated digestion, and transport between luminal content and the epithelial lining. The increased villus height induced by the reference postbiotic results in a larger nutrient absorption surface area and leads to a significantly better final body weight (P<0.05), with respect to the control diet (Table 1).


Enhanced intestine length induces greater feed efficiency


Abudabos et al. observed a similar result in broilers challenged with Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens). During this 30-day experiment, the birds were challenged orally with C. perfringens from D18 to D20. At D30, the birds in the reference postbiotic group had the longest intestine, compared to the ones in the control group and the antibiotic group (Enramycin), respectively 182 cm, 178 cm, and 176 cm (P<0.05). Furthermore, birds in the reference postbiotic group and the antibiotic group reached a significantly better FCR than the ones in the control group, 1.57, 1.57 and 1.73, respectively (P<0.05).


Better FCR, greater productivity


Hashim et al. continued the investigation, without challenging the birds, and reached the same conclusion about the reference postbiotic positive effects on the birds’ productivity index (PI). During this 42-day trial, broilers that received the reference postbiotic at 250 g/t of feed, reached a body weight of 3032 g at D42. This is significantly higher than the ones in the control group, 2875 g (P<0.05), see Figure 1. Compared to the control group, the overall productivity index was significantly greater in the reference postbiotic group: 440 and 415 respectively (P<0.05).

Gut is the primary organ to digest and uptake nutrients. Villus height, goblet cell number and mucus thickness are the key elements to “take care of” in a successful nutritional strategy. Indeed, intestine length and increased villus height will make the surface area more available for nutrient absorption. The reference postbiotic, Safmannan, has been proven to have a positive impact on gut morphology, thus helps birds to reach a better gut health status and improved growth performance. Adding the reference postbiotic in a holistic nutritional strategy will empower poultry producers to obtain optimum use of feed and great productivity.




1- Morales-López, R. , Auclair, E. , Van Immerseel, F. , Ducatelle, R. , García, F. and Brufau, J.(2010) ‘Effects of different yeast cell wall supplements added to maize- or wheat-based diets for broiler chickens’, British Poultry Science, 51: 3, 399 — 4

2- Alaeldein M. Abudabos & Hany M. Yehia (2013) Effect of Dietary Mannan Oligosaccharide from Saccharomyces Cerevisiae on Live Performance of Broilers Under Clostridium Perfringens Challenge, Italian Journal of Animal Science, 12:2, DOI: 4081/ijas.2013.e38

3- Hashim MM, Leyva-Jimenez HE, Al-Ajeeli MN, Jameel YJ, Gaydos TA, Bailey CA. Performance of broilers fed diets supplemented with two yeast cell wall strains using two feeding strategies. Vet Med Sci. 2019;5(3):435-441. doi:10.1002/vms3.172

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