Researchers at this year’s European Poultry Conference in Dubrovnik (17th-21st September) presented new data to shed further light on the proposed mechanism of action of xylanases, frequently used in broiler diets to improve feed digestibility by degrading the arabinoxylan fraction of dietary fiber.

Through the production of small soluble fiber fragments, arabinoxylo-oligosaccharides (AXOS), xylanases can exert a prebiotic effect in the gastrointestinal tract of broilers. This effect is thought to be moderated by broiler age, due to differences in the relative maturity of the gut microbiome with time.

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Research presented from KU Leuven, Belgium, supported by AB Vista, measured the impact of broiler age on arabinoxylan digestion in the GI tract when supplementing diets with AXOS. Chicks supplemented from hatching with 0.5% AXOS in a wheat-based diet demonstrated higher levels of arabinoxylan solubilization and fermentation, compared to control birds at 5 days of age.

AXOS supplementation in young broilers was shown to stimulate arabinoxylan degradation, speeding up the development of a fiber-fermenting microbiome in the young broiler. This training or stimulation effect could enable greater functional value to be extracted from dietary fiber in broiler feed.