Boost Your Broiler Production with the Power of Beta-glucanase in Wheat Diets!

Published 30 November, 2023

In today's world, where concerns about antibiotic resistance and public health are on the rise, scientists are actively seeking alternatives to antibiotics in chicken feed. In a recent publication in the Animal Nutrition journal by KeAi, a team of Canadian researchers detailed a common ingredient in chicken diets—wheat—and how a special enzyme, purified beta-glucanase, can make a big difference.

The primary aim of the study was to determine whether the incorporation of purified beta-glucanase into chicken feed based on wheat could result in improved beta-glucan utilization and enhanced chicken performance. The researchers anticipated that beta-glucanase had the potential to break down a wheat component known as beta-glucan, which, in turn, could enhance nutrient digestion, promote a healthier gut microbiota, and ultimately contribute to the growth and well-being of the chickens.

“The results were fascinating. Not only did beta-glucanase effectively break down beta-glucan, but it also improved chicken growth and health,” shared the lead author of the study, Namalika Karunaratne. “But there's more to the story. We compared beta-glucanase to antibiotics historically used in chicken feed and found that beta-glucanase had some unique advantages.”

While antibiotics did a decent job of breaking down beta-glucan, beta-glucanase performed even better, especially in the early stages of growth.

“However, beta-glucanase reduced short-chain fatty acids, which carbohydrate fermentation products in the chicken's digestive system. This might seem counterintuitive,” said Karunaratne. “Interestingly, it didn't harm the chickens' overall performance. In fact, it led to improved weight gain and increased feed efficiency.”

The researchers concluded that adding purified beta-glucanase to the chicken feed not only boosted performance but also reduced the need for antibiotics and other medications.

“This marks a major step forward in keeping our feathered friends healthy and our food supply safer. It's a win-win for both chickens and those who care for them!” remarked Karunaratne.

Contact author name, affiliation, email address: Namalika Karunaratne, Department of Animal and Poultry Science, College of Agriculture and Bioresources, University of Saskatchewan,

Funder: This research was funded under the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair Program.

Conflict of interest: The authors declare that we have no financial and personal relationships with other people or organizations that can inappropriately influence the current research, with one potential exception, the coauthor and collaborator on this project, Michael R. Bedford, is employed by the company that provided the enzyme used in the research. This coauthor did not bias the research based on his employment status.

See the article: Karunaratne, N.D., et al., Diet medication and beta-glucanase affect ileal digesta soluble beta-glucan molecular weight, carbohydrate fermentation, and performance of broiler chickens given wheat-based diets, 15 (2023), Animal Nutrition.


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