An experiment with 288 male (Ross 308) 1-d-old broilers was conducted to test the hypothesis that a coarse diet supplemented with butyric acid (BA) and fermentable carbohydrates (FC) improves performance of broilers with a poorly digestible protein source. The interaction effects of diet structure (fine or coarse), FC supplementation (with or without), and BA supplementation (with or without) in a poorly digestible diet based on rapeseed meal (RSM) were tested in a factorial arrangement of 8 (2 × 2 × 2) dietary treatments. The coarseness of the diet affected feed intake (FI) (P <0.001), BW gain (P = 0.001), and the feed conversion ratio (FCR) (P = 0.001) positively. Broilers fed the coarse diets had, on average, 14% heavier gizzards and 11, 7, 5, and 6% lower relative empty weights of the crop, duodenum, jejunum, and ileum, respectively, compared with those fed the fine diets. Dietary coarseness resulted in, on average, 6% greater ileal protein digestibility, 20% lower gizzard pH, 19% greater villus height, 18% lower crypt depth, and 23% reduced cecal branched chain fatty acids (BCFA) compared with chickens fed the fine diets. Broilers fed BA-supplemented diets had an improved FCR (P = 0.004) and decreased crypt depth (P <0.001) compared with those fed diets without BA. Fermentable carbohydrate supplementation did not influence growth performance, gut development, or contents of total BCFA and total biogenic amines in the cecal digesta (P > 0.05). Supplementation with FC, however, decreased the cecal concentration of spermine by approximately 31% compared with broilers fed diets without FC (P = 0.002). In conclusion, feeding a coarse diet supplemented with BA improved performance of broilers fed a diet containing a poorly digestible protein source. The negative effects of a poorly digestible protein source can thus be partly counterbalanced by coarse grinding and BA supplementation in the diet.