The aim of this study was to compare the effects of a new multispecies probiotic containing four Bacillus species and Saccharomyces boulardii (Microguard®) with a commercial probiotic (Protexin®) and a commonly used antibiotic in broilers. Six hundred one-day-old male Ross 308 broilers were randomized to six experimental treatments, with five replicates of 20 chicks each, for 42 days, receiving an ad libitum corn-soybean basal diet. Treatments were added to the basal diet and consisted of tetracycline as an antibiotic growth promoter (500 g/ton), three dosages of Microguard (50, 100 and150 g/ton) or Protexin (100 g/ton). The control group received the basal diet with no additive. The group fed with Microguard at 150 g/ton showed increased final bodyweight, weight gain, high density lipoprotein, triglyceride, and antibody titres against Newcastle disease (ND) and avian influenza (AI) levels. Improved feed conversion ratio, increased villus height, and villus highest crypt depth ratio, along with lower plasma gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, alkaline phosphatase, alanine aminotransferase, were found in probiotic-supplemented broilers. Carcass yield, liver weights, breast muscle values, and abdominal fat weights were reduced in groups fed with 100 or 150 g/ton of Microguard. Caecal coliforms, Salmonella and Escherichia coli numbers decreased in groups fed with 100 or 150 g/ton of Microguard. These results show that Microguard at 150 g/ton is a promising probiotic to replace antibiotics in broiler feed as a growth-promoter while enhancing immune system responses and inducing beneficial modulations in the caecal microflora.
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