Proteolytic enzyme-treated seaweed co-product (Ulva laetevirens) inclusion in corn-soybean and European broiler diets to improve digestibility, health, and performance

Stokvis, L.; Kwakkel, R.P.; Hendriks, W.H.; Kals, J.


The impact of addition of an Ulva laetevirens (previously Ulva rigida) co-product treated with a broad-spectrum endo-protease when added to a standard corn-soy (S) based diet and a diet based on European protein sources (EU) on performance, in vivo digestibility and multiple gastrointestinal characteristics was investigated in broilers. In total, 624 Ross 308 one-day-old male broilers were fed one of 6 experimental diets (8 replicates) consisting of a basal diet (S or EU), or a basal diet including the U. laetevirens co-product (U) treated without (U-) or with (U+) a proteolytic enzyme. Starter diets contained 0 (wk 1) and 2.5 (wk 2), and the grower diets (wk 3 and 4) 5% seaweed co-product. In the last 2 wk, birds fed the S vs. EU grower diets showed a higher BW, BWG, and FI, as well as a lower FCR (−0.05 g/g) in wk 3 (P < 0.05). Heavier gizzards (+13%; P < 0.001) and heavier gizzard contents (+92%; P < 0.001) were observed in birds fed the EU vs. S diets, as well as longer villi (+8%; P = 0.010). U diets had a higher water holding capacity than the basal diets (+19%). In wk 4, U inclusion resulted in increased FCR (+0.06 g/g; P < 0.001), water intake (+7%; P < 0.001), and duodenal cross section (+5%; P = 0.033). Enzyme treatment did not affect digestibility of any nutrients, except for ash which was increased in birds fed U+ vs. U- diets (+60%; P < 0.001). U in S diets led to higher, and U in EU diets led to lower apparent pre-cecal digestibility of all nutrients (P < 0.001 for all nutrients). Although for both diet types performance was decreased, dietary U. laetevirens inclusion had different effects when added to a standard corn-soy diet and a diet based on European protein sources. No obvious health effects were observed, leading to the conclusion of the absence of performance of health promoting bioactive components in the U. laetevirens co-product, or of diminishing of these effects due to the proteolytic enzyme treatment.