1. This in vivo trial was conducted to study the effects of polysaccharide extracts of two mushrooms, Lentinus edodes (LenE) and Tremella fuciformis (TreE), and a herb, Astragalus membranaceus (AstE) on growth performance, and the weights of organs and the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of broiler chickens. 2. Three extracts (LenE, TreE and AstE) were supplemented at inclusion rates of 0·5, 1, 2, 3 and 4 g/kg from 7 to 14 d of age and compared with an antibiotic treatment group (20 mg/kg, virginiamycin (VRG) as well as a group of non-supplemented birds. 3. Body weight (BW) gain, feed intake and feed conversion ratio (FCR) of the extract-supplemented groups were not significantly different from those of the antibiotic group. Significant effects of type of extract and concentration on growth performance were found from 7 to 28 d of age. Generally, birds fed with LenE showed higher BW gain and lower FCR from 7 to 28 d of age than those fed with TreE and AstE and 2 g/kg LenE was considered the optimal inclusion rate for enhanced broiler growth. However, the extracts had no significant effect on the relative weights of organs and GIT compared with the antibiotic group. 4. The birds fed the extracts showed better growth performance than the non-supplemented birds, but were not significantly different from those fed VRG. Of the three extracts, LenE appeared to be a potential growth promoter. Future studies are needed to investigate whether the extracts can be used as alternatives for antibiotic growth promoters in challenged birds, and to elucidate the mechanisms for potentially enhanced growth performance in poultry.
- normal microbial flora
- in-vitro fermentation