Trouw Nutrition research shows smectite clay mitigates immune and performance effects of Aflatoxin B1 in poultry

4 October 2018

Trouw Nutrition researchers recently presented findings from two recent studies examining how smectite clay can mitigate immune and performance effect of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) in feed.  

Smectite clay supplementation effects on broilers 

The study conducted in partnership with a team of researchers from Trouw Nutrition and Hunan Agricultural University in China, examined the effects of adding smectite clay to the diets of broiler chickens. In this 42-day study, 480 male broilers were randomly distributed to six treatments. The birds were fed diets containing 0, 100 or 200 ppb of AFB1 and 0 or 2.5 kg per tonne of smectites clay. The study was divided into two feeding periods (days 1-21 and days 22-42), and at the end of each period, birds were analyzed for multiple factors including growth performance, organ index, intestinal morphology, secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) of jejunal mucosa and liver and spleen cytokines.

The effect on immune function and growth performace

The study found that consuming feed contaminated with AFB1 (at both 100 and 200 ppb) had an adverse effect on broiler growth performance and immune function. When birds exposed to AFB1 were also fed a supplement of smectite clay, immune effects were mitigated and final weight and average daily gain improved.

Birds exposed to AFB1 showed an increased thymus index, an effect that decreased when smectite clay was added to the diet. The liver and spleen showed similar positive responses to the smectite clay following AFB1 exposure. Birds fed smectite clay also had significantly increased villous height and crypt depth of the duodenum and jejunum, indicating a healthier intestinal morphology compared to the birds that did not receive smectite clay. While AFB1 exposure tended to significantly decrease feed intake at the early phase of the study, by late phase, birds fed smectite clay had overcome this initial challenge with significantly increased final weight and average daily gain.

Reducing the negative impact of mycotoxins

"What we observed was that as exposure to AFB1 created an inflammatory response in the birds, smectite clay relieved the negative impacts of the mycotoxin," explained Yanming Han, principal researcher for Trouw Nutrition and one of the study's authors. "We believe that by reducing that immune response, the birds can devote their energy and resources to growth, resulting in the improved average daily gains and final weights we observed in our smectites clay-fed broilers."

Smectite clay can help manage aflatoxin risk

A recent Trouw Nutrition analysis of 2017 harvest data revealed that mycotoxin presence in crops increased by 6% (to 68% total) compared to 2016. Aflatoxins were present in 91% of the samples tested. Han noted, "The high rate of mycotoxin presence has producers concerned about resulting effects on growth and performance. These studies indicate that supplementing feed with smectites clay can be an effective way to offset the presence of potentially damaging AFB1 in feed."