Background: Necrotic Enteritis, caused by C. perfringens is a major bacterial disease in chickens that results in substantial economic losses to the poultry industry. Drug resistance and increased pressure to reduce the use of antimicrobial growth promoters has stimulated the need to search for alternatives. This two-part study investigated the use of the natural herbal compound Berberine in broiler chickens for the control of Necrotic Enteritis.
Methods and findings: Phase 1 evaluated Berberine in-water at 0.1 g/L and 1.0 g/L in vivo against C. perfringens induced disease in broiler chickens. Results demonstrated efficacy towards the disease based on significantly decreased mortality and lesion scores at 1.0 ml/L Berberine treatment. Despite this, bodyweight, and feed and water consumption were greatly decreased in treated groups. Bursa of fabricus to bodyweight ratio results indicate there was no distinct damage to the immune system, suggesting palatability of Berberine in-water may have been the principal cause. The follow-up Phase 2 trial investigated the in vivo palatability of Berberine in-feed at 2.0 g/kg in non-challenged broiler chickens. Bodyweight, feed consumption and feed conversion ratio were found to not be affected compared to controls. However, water consumption was significantly increased in treated groups.
Conclusions: Therefore from the present study, it can be concluded that Berberine has the potential to contribute to the control of Necrotic Enteritis, and that Berberine in-feed treatment alleviates the bird productivity concerns present when Berberine is administered via water.
David Xiang Y, Zhiyong H, Wenyue W, Colin P, Zhi-cheng X
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