Six hundred Ross 308 male broiler chickens were used to study the effect of licorice extract and the prebiotic, fermacto, on performance, blood metabolites and gastro-intestinal transit time (GTT) of feed in the birds. The birds were fed according to a three phase feeding programme on a starter, grower and finisher diet during the ages of 1 – 14 day, 15 – 35 days and 35 – 49 days of age, respectively. The basic diets during each phase contained either 100 or 95% of recommended digestible amino acid (RDAA) concentrations. The two basic starter diets were divided into five treatment diets: No supplement (control); and supplemented with 2.0 g fermacto/kg; and 2.0 (high); 1.0 (medium) and 0.5 (low) g licorice extract/kg diet. In the grower diets half the levels of these supplements were included, while the two finisher diets were fed without containing any of the experimental supplements. There was not a significant difference in body weight, feed intake and feed conversion ratio between the birds fed the control and the diets supplemented with the prebiotic or the different levels of licorice. However, birds receiving diets containing licorice extract had lighter abdominal fat pads compared to those fed the prebiotic or control diets. Blood cholesterol concentrations decreased significantly in birds receiving the high level of licorice in their starter and grower diets as compared to the control. The GTT of feed in the birds fed diets containing the prebiotic or licorice extract did not differ from that of the birds in the control. A 5% reduction in dietary RDAA concentration caused an increase in feed conversion ratio of chickens on the starter and grower diets and for the total duration of the experiment.
"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher