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Effect of Dietary Supplementation of Aloe vera and Lactobacillus acidophilus on Growth Performance, Nutrient Utilization and Carcass Characteristics Of Broiler Birds

Sagarika Barman A. K. Samanta Biren Das Ranjana Goswami J. M. Rao Gali P. Chandrima Devi
Vol 9(5), 102-112

A study was conducted to evaluate the effect of Aloe vera and Lactobacillus acidophilus on performance of broiler birds. Two hundred one day old broiler chicks were randomly distributed into five treatments groups: 1) basal diet without any supplementation (control); 2) basal diet with BMD @0.5g/kg of feed(AB) ; 3) basal diet with 0.5% Aloe vera powder (AV) ;4) basal diet with Lactobacillus acidophilus(LAB) and 5)basal diet with 0.5% Aloe vera plus Lactobacillus(ALVAB). Final body weight was tended to be higher (P=0.08) in treatment groups than control. Improved feed conversion efficiency (P<0.05) observed in all AV, LAB and ALVAB groups compared to the control. Significant differences (P>0.05) were not observed on the digestibilities of nutrients among the treatments. Carcass characteristics showed no significant difference between the treatment groups. It is concluded that aloe vera (0.5%) and Lactobacillus acidophilus can be used as an alternative to antibiotic growth promoters to improve performance of broiler.

Keywords : Aloe vera Broiler Birds Carcass Traits Lactobacillus acidophilus Nutrient Utilization Performance

Antibiotic feed additive as growth promoters have long been supplemented to poultry feed to improve the general performance and prevent some specific intestinal pathology (Hassan et al., 2010). However, due to emergence of microbial resistance to antibiotics the European Commission (EC) decided to ban, the marketing and use of antibiotics as growth promoters in feed since 2006. Such situation has compelled the researcher to use alternatives to antibiotic growth promoter like organic acids, enzymes, probiotics, prebiotic, herbs, essential oil and immunostimulants as feed additives in poultry (Jackson et al., 2004). Among the alternatives phytobiotics and probiotics have the potential to improve the production performance of poultry.

Probiotics are live microbial feed supplements which beneficially affect the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance, feed conversion efficiency, weight gain and reduce mortality or a live microbial feed that is beneficial to health (Patterson and Burkholder, 2003). Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) is a well-known medicinal herb used for commercial and therapeutic properties in many parts of the world. Aloe vera gel contains com­pounds like accemannan with proven antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, immu­nomodulatory, and wound healing properties (Boudreau and Beland, 2006). Studies have reported that there is increase Lactobacillus count by supplementing diets with Aloe vera due to its prebiotic properties (Erdogan et al., 2010). Very few studies have been conducted to explore the symbiotic properties of Aloe vera and Lactobacillus spp. in broiler birds. Therefore, this experiment was conducted to evaluate the effect of aloe vera and Lactobacillus acidophilus as alternative to antibiotic growth promoters on performance, nutrient utilization and carcass traits in broiler birds.

Materials and Methods

Location and Climate

This experiment was conducted at Instructional Livestock Farm Complex, Department of Animal Nutrition, College of Veterinary Sciences & Animal Husbandry, Selesih, Aizawl, Mizoram. Permission for using the animals for the experiment was duly taken from Institutional Animal Ethics committee (IAEC) constituted as per CPCSEA rules laid down by Government of India.

Experimental Birds, Experiment Design & Diet

Two hundred one day old broiler chicks were randomly distributed into five treatments groups with five replicates (n=5) per group. Each replicate contained 8 chicks. Five dietary groups consisted of- 1) basal diet as per BIS standard, 2007 without any supplementation (control); 2) basal diet with BMD (Bacitracin methylene disalicylate) 0.5g/kg of feed (AB); 3) basal diet with 0.5% aloe vera powder (ALV); 4) basal diet with Lactobacillus acidophilus (LAB) and 5)basal diet with 0.5% aloe vera powder plus Lactobacillus acidophilus (ALVLB). The chicks were reared group wise under the similar management condition and health care. The birds were vaccinated against Ranikhet and infectious bursal disease at the 7th and 14th day respectively. Three types of standard broiler diets have been prepared i.e. broiler pre-starter (1-7 days of age), broiler starter (8-21 days of age) and broiler finisher (22-42 days of age) as per BIS (2007) specification (Table 1). The natural pure Aloe vera powder was purchased from local market. Premix of Aloe vera powder and culture of L. acidophilus were added to basal diet and mixed thoroughly to obtain different treatment diets.

Table 1: Ingredient and nutrient composition of diets fed to experimental broiler chicken at different period

Ingredients Composition(kg/100g feed as fed) Pre-starter Starter Finisher
Maize 59.14 61 64.8
Soyabean meal 33.6 30.71 26.2
Fish Meal 3.8 4.3 3.5
Rice bran oil 0 0.8 2.21
Dicalcium phosphate 1.24 0.9 0.9
Sodium Chloride 0.3 0.3 0.3
Limestone powder 1.12 1.25 1.21
Methionine 0.27 0.27 0.27
Lysine 0.22 0.11 0.12
Threonine 0.045 0.045 0.045
Coccidiostat 0.05 0.05 0.05
Toxin binder 0.05 0.05 0.05
Trace mineral mixture 0.05 0.05 0.05
Vitamin premix 0.015 0.015 0.015
Choline chloride 0.05 0.05 0.05
Antioxidant 0.01 0.01 0.01
Total 100 100 100
Dry matter (%) 89.55 90.81 92.02
Nutrient Composition (DM basis)
Crude protein (%) 23.05 22.02 20.38
Crude fibre (%) 2.86 3.52 3.92
Ether extract (%) 3.1 3.5 3.48
Total ash (%) 5.9 7.09 6.48
Nitrogen free extract (%) 65.06 63.93 65.8
Calcium (%) 1.3 1.62 1.29
Phosphorous (%) 0.86 0.96 0.99
ME (Kcal/kg)* 3062.22 3116.4 3184.5

* Calculated value

Preparation of Lactobacillus acidophilus Culture

The probiotic product (Lactobacillus acidophilus) was procured from National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, India. From the stock culture, a loop full of Lactobacillus acidophilus was transferred aseptically to glycerol solution for maintaining the micro-organism culture by incubating for 24 hrs at 370C. The bacterial culture was kept in deep freeze. Bacterial colony was grown in MRS agar and was suspended in PBS solution and concentration was checked by following McFarland standards. Minimum concentration of Lactobacillus acidophilus was maintained at 106CFU/ g of feed.



Measurement of Performance Traits

Body weight of all the broiler chicken was measured at day 1 and subsequently at weekly interval. Feed intake per bird was calculated subtracting the residual feed from the amount of feed offered. Average daily feed intake (ADFI) & feed conversion ratio (FCR) was calculated accordingly. Mortality was recorded daily and PM examination was done to find out the exact cause of death. European production efficiency index (EPEI) was calculated with the following formula-

Where, LW (kg) = Live weight at the end of the rearing period, LA (%) = Livability (number of birds alive at the end of the rearing period relative to the number of chicks placed), SA (days) = Slaughter age of chicks, FCR (kg) = Cumulative feed intake (kg) / total weight gain (kg).

Measurement of Digestibility of Nutrients

Apparent digestibility of dry matter and other nutrients was measured at the end of feeding trail i.e. at d 42. Five chickens of each group was randomly selected and housed in individual pen. The faecal sample in each pen was collected daily over a period of three days. Feed and faecal samples were processed for chemical analysis.

Measurement of Carcass Traits

At the end of the experiment representative birds from each group were selected and then slaughtered. Live weights, plucked weight and dressed weights have been taken for each of the birds. Organs- liver, lungs, heart, kidneys, etc., were removed and weighed individually.

Sensory Evaluation

Cuts obtained from the breast region from carcasses of broiler birds of different groups were cooked under the same temperature and pressure and subjected to sensory evaluation on an 8 point hedonic scale for various sensory attributes of appearance and colour, flavor,texture, juiciness and overall acceptability.

Chemical Analysis of Feed and Faeces

Feed and faeces were processed and analyzed for dry matter (DM), crude protein (CP), crude fibre (CF), ether extract (EE), total ash (TA) and nitrogen free extract (NFE) as per procedure of AOAC (2000). Calcium and phosphorous content by following the procedure of Talapatra et al. (1940) and AOAC (2000) respectively.



Statistical Analysis

The data was analyzed by one way analysis of variance (ANOVA) using SPSS (1997) by following completely randomized design. The test was employed for identifying the significant differences amongst the different treatments. Probability values less than 0.05 is considered to be statistically significant and the values P≤0.1 was declared as trend.

Results and Discussion

Feed Intake, Average Daily Gain and Feed Efficiency

Final body weight was not significantly differed (P>0.05) among the treatments (Table 2). However, Body weight was tended to be higher (P=0.08) in AB, ALV, LAB, ALVLB supplemented groups compared to control group. The findings are similar with Mountzouris et al.(2007) who also found that average daily weight gain of chickens fed probiotics was significantly increased during the first 3 weeks but not during the 4–6th weeks of growth.

Table 2: Effect of aloe vera and probiotic (L. acidophilus) supplementation on average daily gain (ADG; g/h), average daily feed intake (ADFI; g/d) and Feed conversion ratio (FCR; g gain/g feed intake) and EPEI in broiler chicken (1-42 days of age)

Attributes Treatments P VALUE
Initial wt 43.68 41.68 43.85 45.63 43.09 0.45 0.078NS
Final wt 1814.1 1894.1 1894.7 1899.8 1888.9 11.5 0.080 NS
d 1-14 18.18±0.42ab 17.61±0.43ab 17.11±0.18a 16.97±0.37a 18.69±0.22b 1.24 <0.01
 d 15-28 38.75±2.21 41.78±0.34 42.45±0.32 42.19±0.55 41.72±0.22 0.47 0.126
d29-42 69.52±2.29 72.92±2.27 72.64±1.30 73.27±1.23 71.42±2.04 0.82 0.63NS
d 1-42 42.15±0.39 44.10±0.74 44.06±0.39 44.14±0.44 43.95±0.67 0.27 0.08NS
d 1-14 22.50±0.45ab 22.28±0.18ab 21.87±0.09a 22.84±.08bc 23.31±.06c 0.136 0.003*
d 15-28 74.29±0.52 73.66±0.12 73.73±0.10 74.15±0.11 74.18±.07 0.48 0.310NS
d 29-42 138.27±0.39 137.90±0.12 137.66±0.06 137.43±0.19 137.58±0.08 0.1 0.078NS
d 1-42 78.35±40 77.94±0.05 77.75±0.05 78.14±0.08 78.35±0.04 0.27 0.145NS
d 1-14 1.23±0.03 1.26±0.03 1.28±0.01 1.35±0.03 1.24±0.01 0.015 0.065
d 15-28 1.93±0.06b 1.76±0.01ab 1.73±0.01a 1.75±0.02a 1.77±0.009ab 0.02 0.03*
d 29-42 2.00±0.07 1.89±0.05 1.89±0.03 1.87±0.03 1.93±0.05 0.02 0.521NS
d 1-42 1.86±0.01b 1.76±0.02a 1.76±0.01a 1.77±0.01a 1.78±0.02a 0.02 0.033*
day 1-42 225.72 241.39 238.15 241.14 235 3.57 0.66NS

NS=Non significant, abcmeans with different superscript in the same row differ significantly; AB=Antibiotic; ALV= Aloe vera; LAB=L. acidophilus; ALVLB=Aloe vera & L. acidophilus; d=Day; EPEI= European Production Efficiency Index.

In our present study, comparatively higher body weight was observed in LAB group at day 42. This could be due to alteration of intestinal microbial status, suppression of pathogenic microbial growth and enhancement of digestion and utilization of nutrients in broiler supplemented with probiotic (Yeo et al., 1997). Better growth rate in ALV supplemented group may be due to presence of acemannan- a mannose polymer having antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immu­no-modulatory, properties (Boudreau and Beland, 2006). The average daily gain (g/h/d) during the overall experimental trail d (1-42) was not affected (p>0.05) by the dietary treatment provided to AB, ALV, LAB and ALVLB groups compared to control group. ADG was tended to be higher (P=0.08) in AB, ALV, LAB, ALVLB supplemented group as compared to control. The similar observation was reported by Sinurat et al. (2002) who reported that aloe gel and its extract did not influence body weight gain and feed consumption of broiler significantly. In contrast, Mmereole (2011) who observed significantly higher (P<0.05) body weight was observed in the birds fed diet containing aloe vera than the birds fed control diet. In our study it was also observed that LAB supplementation tended to increase (P=0.08) the ADG and final body weight of the broiler birds. This finding is in agreement with the other studies (Kalavathy et al., 2003; Song et al., 2014 ). Song et al. (2014) reported significant increase in body weight gain in broiler fed with Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria spp.

The average daily feed intake (g/h/d) during the overall experimental trial (d 1-42) was 78.35, 77.94, 77.75, 78.14, and 78.35 for Control, AB, ALV, LAB and ALVLB groups respectively. Feed intake during the entire experimental period (1-42 d) was similar (P=0.145) among the treatments (Table 3). However, the average daily feed intake (g/h/d) (ADFI) was significantly reduced (P<0.003) in ALV group when compared to Control, AB, ALVLB group from 1-14 d of age. This finding is in congruency with Yousefi and Karkoodi (2007) who also reported that feed consumption was not affected by the dietary probiotic supplementation. Eevuri and Putturu (2013) who reported that turmeric, tulsi, amla and aloe vera preparations increased the body weight gain feed efficiency and decreased the feed intake.

Table 3: Apparent digestibility of nutrients (per cent) in experimental birds during the digestion trial

Digestibility Coefficient (%)         Treatments P Value
DM 81.83 83.69 83.85 84.65 84.19 0.35 0.103NS
CP 83.94 84.93 85.45 86.31 85.84 0.29 0.090NS
EE 81.3 82.65 81.65 83.67 83.58 1.07 0.092NS
CF 56.88 56.73 54.12 62.44 60.55 0.5 0.485NS
NFE 83.25a 85.76b 85.75b 86.67b 86.62b 0.38 0.016*

NS=Non significant; SEM: Standard error of means. AB=Antibiotic; ALV= Aloe vera; LAB=L. acidophilus; ALVLB=Aloe vera & L. acidophilus

On contrary to our findings, Olupona et al. (2010) and Amini and Vali (2016) reported increased feed intake in groups which were treated by aloe vera gel dissolved in water (15, 20, 25 and 30 cm3/dm3) as body weight gain. Zhang et al. (2014) reported an increased feed intake in chicken fed multi strain probiotics compared with that control group fed basal diet.

The FCR during the overall experimental period (d 1-42) was 1.86, 1.76, 1.76, 1.77 and 1.78 for control, AB, ALV, LAB and ALVLB groups respectively with significant difference (P<0.05) among the treatment groups. An improved FCR was observed in ALV and LAB compared to control. The present observation was similar to Mountzouris et al. (2010) who reported improved FCR without significant difference in feed intake by in probiotic supplemented broiler birds. Namagirilakshmi (2005) also reported that supplementation of aloe vera, probiotic and turmeric in chicken diet showed better feed efficiency. AB, ALV, LAB and ALVLB supplemented group was comparatively improved FCR but non-significant (P>0.05) as compared to control group during overall period (d 1-42).

European Production Efficiency Index (EPEI) of AB, ALV, LAB and ALVLB supplemented group was comparatively higher but non- significant (P>0.05) as compared to control group during overall period (d 1-42). It is a tool for measuring the production performance in broiler birds. The factors involved in the EPEI are BWG, FCR and viability is considered universal measures for evaluating broiler performance. Comparatively better EPEI in LAB group could be due to fact that probiotics have a good impact on the poultry performance (Mountzouris et al., 2007), improve microbial balance, synthesize vitamins (Fuller, 1989), decrease pH and release bacteriocins (Rolfe, 2000), improve feed consumption in layers and broilers (Nahashon et al., 1994).

Nutrient Utilization

The digestibility of dry matter (DM) and other nutrient such as crude protein (CP), crude fibre (CF), ether extract (EE)were not significantly different (p>0.05) among the treatment groups except NFE (Table 4).The digestibility of nitrogen free extracts (NFE) which was significantly higher (P<0.05) in AB, ALV, LAB and ALVLB group when compared to Control. However, digestibility of CP was tended to be higher (P=0.09) in all the dietary treatment as compared to control. The better digestibility of nutrients due to LAB supplementation could be due to established fact that probiotics alter pH of gastrointestinal tracts and microbial status to favor an increased activity of the intestinal enzymes and digestibility of nutrients (Dirck, 1989). However, Li et al. (2008) reported that supplementation of commercial probiotic (AgiPro A100) in broiler diet increased digestibility of dry matter (DM) by 12.4% at day 42. Tariq et al. (2015) noted that apparent total tract digestibility of DM, CP and EE was significantly higher (P<0.05) in Aloe vera and clove supplemented group in comparison to control group. Zhang et al. (2014) also observed that the apparent ileal digestibility (AID) of essential amino acids was improved in birds fed a maize-soybean-based diet supplemented with a low dose (1 to 2 ×102cfu/g) of a multi-strain commercial probiotic (Probion) containing L. acidophilus, B. subtilis and C. butyricum.

Carcass Characteristics

Carcass characteristics were not affected by the dietary treatments (Table 4). The dressing percentage of ALV was numerically higher compared to other treatment groups however no significant difference was observed amongst all the groups. The present observation is not in agreement with Durrani et al. (2006) who reported the significantly higher dressing percentage in the group receiving 10ml /l aqueous extract of aloe gel (10% w/v) but other parameters like abdominal fat, liver, heart and gizzard weight were not affected. The relative weight of different cut parts (as % of slaughter body weight) have been presented in the Table 4.

Table 4: Effect of aloe vera and probiotic (L. acidophilus) supplementation on carcass characteristic (as percentage of slaughter body weight) of the experimental birds

Attributes Treatments P value
Slaughter b. wt 1796.7 1915 1900 1910 1926.7 35.2 0.82NS
Eviscerated carcass wt 1204.3 1303.33 1323.3 1305 1306.7 31.58 0.82NS
Dressing% 66.86 67.94 69.68 68.34 67.69 0.66 0.807NS
Relative parts( as % slaughter body weight)
Breast % 20.73 20.02 25.47 23.75 22.81 0.75 0.112NS
Back % 13.09 14.96 13.15 15.71 13.89 0.56 0.566NS
Thigh% 10.66 8.75 10.91 10.84 10.02 0.33 0.218NS
Drumstick % 10.58bc 9.25a 10.01ab 11.25c 9.33a 0.24 0.011*
Wings% 7.79 7.5 6.75 7.86 7.8 0.25 0.68NS
Neck % 4.14 3.39 3.01 3.21 3.79 0.18 0.32NS
Liver % 1.76 1.65 1.72 2.16 1.53 0.1 0.41NS
Gizzard % 2.4 1.83 2.15 2.12 2.33 0.08 0.17NS
Heart % 0.46 0.51 0.7 0.88 0.6 0.06 0.23NS
Giblet % 4.64 4 4.58 5.17 4.47 0.15 0.20NS
Abdominal fat % 1.24 1.41 1.39 1.34 1.37 0.02 0.35NS
Bursa % 0.05 0.046 0.066 0.053 0.056 0.002 0.23NS

NS=Non significant; SEM: Standard error of means. AB=Antibiotic; ALV= Aloe vera; LAB=L. acidophilus; ALVLB=Aloe vera & L. acidophilus

On statistical analysis it was observed that there was significant difference (P>0.05) in drumstick and LAB have highest percent among the different treatment groups. The present observation is in agreement with Hossain et al. (2012) who found addition of probiotics increased breast meat absolute and relative weight. Tariq et al. (2015) observed that giblet weight, other cut up parts and composition of breast, thigh and drumstick of Japanese quails supplemented with aloe vera were significantly differed from control group.


Sensory Evaluation

Effect of aloe vera and probiotic supplementation on organoleptic test changes in broiler chickens is presented in Table 5. On statistical analysis it was revealed that there was no significant difference (p>0.05) among the various experimental groups of birds when organoleptic test was done by using eight point Hedonic scale tests. Our findings are similar with Lodii et al. (2000) who found that neither probiotic nor antibiotic affected sensory characteristic (intensity of flavor, tenderness, juiciness and overall acceptability of breast and leg meat of broiler birds. Puvaca et al. (2013) reported the beneficial effect of phytobiotic compounds on meat quality and safety, which might be due to presence of antimicrobial and antioxidants properties in these compounds. Mahajan et al. (2000) reported that the scores for the sensory attributes i.e. appearance, texture, juiciness and acceptability of meat parts were significantly (P<0.01) improved in the probiotic (Lacto-sac) fed group.

Table 5: Effect of aloe vera and probiotic (L. acidophilus) supplementation on organoleptic test changes in broiler chicken

Attributes Treatments P value
Appearance & Colour 7.33 7.33 7 7.25 7.5 0.1 0.651NS
Flavour 6.83 7.16 6.96 7.16 7.11 0.1 0.851NS
Texture 6.83 7.16 6.83 6.91 7 0.56 0.852NS
Juiciness 6.5 6.66 6.33 6.91 6.75 0.17 0.866NS
Overall acceptability 6.83 6.76 6.63 6.85 6.91 0.07 0.811NS

NS=Non significant; AB=Antibiotic, ALV= Aloe vera; LAB=L. acidophilus; ALVLB=Aloe vera & L. acidophilus

Economics of Production

The return over feed cost (ROFC) (Rs/ bird) realized under different feed supplemented groups were found to be 208.74, 220.57, 209.65, 219.6, 202.46 for Control, AB, ALV, LAB and ALVLB respectively. ROFC (Rs/ kg live bird) was Rs 113.42, Rs 115.24, Rs109.08, Rs113.98 and Rs105.6 for Control, AB, ALV, LAB and ALVLB respectively.


Considering the overall performance of broiler birds in terms of body weight gain and conversion efficiency, it can be concluded that, aloe vera and Lactobacillus acidophilus can be used as alternative to antibiotic growth promoters to improve performance in commercial broiler birds.


The authors express thankfulness to the Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Science, CAU, Selesih for providing necessary facilities to carry out the experiment.



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