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Feed passage in broilers is a prevalent issue that presents as the rapid transit of undigested feed through the digestive system, resulting in visible undigested feed in the bird’s droppings. This condition not only signifies inefficiencies in the digestive process but also impacts overall broiler production and welfare. Understanding the causes and implementing effective management and prevention strategies is crucial for optimizing bird health and productivity.

One of the primary causes of rapid feed passage is dietary. Diets high in non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs), which are prevalent in ingredients rich in soluble fibers, can increase the viscosity of the contents within the gut. This heightened viscosity creates a barrier to the absorption of nutrients by trapping them within the gel-like matrix, slowing their movement through the digestive tract and preventing proper digestion.

Enzyme Deficiency and Digestive Efficiency

An enzyme deficiency, whether due to a lack of natural production in the bird’s body or insufficient supplementation in the diet, can leave certain nutrients undigested. As a consequence, these undigested particles are rapidly passed through and appear in the feces.

Environmental Stressors: Heat Stress Heat stress in broilers disrupts digestion by increasing water absorption and diluting enzymes, which impedes nutrient breakdown and absorption, causing rapid feed passage and digestive inefficiency.

Infections and Gut Health 

Infectious agents such as parasites or bacteria can directly damage the intestinal lining, leading to malabsorption and increased feed passage. Diseases like coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis not only cause damage to the gut tissue but also disrupt the normal microbial balance, which is essential for a healthy digestive process. 

Mycotoxin Contamination 

Mycotoxins can compromise the integrity of the gut lining, suppress immune function, and interfere with nutrient absorption, further contributing to the problem of feed passage.  To mitigate the issue of feed passage, a multifaceted approach is necessary, combining dietary management with environmental control and disease prevention. Adjusting dietary components and supplementing with specific enzymes can significantly improve nutrient digestion and absorption.

1 - Protease enzymes are crucial for breaking down proteins into amino acids, facilitating their absorption and utilization by the body.

2 - Pectinase helps degrade pectins found in NSPs, thereby reducing gut viscosity and improving the overall digestibility of the feed.

3 - Lignocellulose contributes to mitigating feed passage issues by adding bulk to the diet, which helps to regulate the gut's transit time, and by promoting a healthy balance of gut flora, essential for optimal nutrient absorption.

4 - The use of the proper probiotics that are producing high levels of surfactin can support gut health by inhibiting pathogenic bacteria responsible for Necrotic Enteritis. These specific probiotics can enhance the gut's barrier function and immune response, contributing to the overall resilience of the birds against digestive disturbances.

Addressing feed passage in broilers requires a comprehensive strategy that encompasses dietary formulations, enzyme supplementation, environmental management, and disease control. By focusing on these key areas, producers can enhance digestive efficiency, improve nutrient utilization, and maintain the health and productivity of their flocks. With the right approach, the challenges of feed passage can be effectively managed, leading to better welfare for the birds and more sustainable production outcomes.

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