The use of probiotics as substitutes for antibiotics is still a subject of great interest in animal ntrition and in the poultry industry. Probiotics are defined as “living micro-organisms that improve animal health by modulating gut bacterial populations of the host” . The activity of probiotics is still not clear, even if changes in the intestinal microflora population have been observed. Probiotics can reduce Escherichia Coli population, lowering pH through lactic acid production. Moreover, they produce enzymes and anti-bacterial compounds, reduce the release of toxins and induce immunostimulation. The use of probiotics in the nutrition of laying hens has been investigated by several authors. The results demonstrate that these additives can positively affect animal performances through a general improvement of health status. The aim of this work was to evaluate the effects of the administration of Pediococcus acidilactici on the performances of laying hens. The dietary supplementation of Bactocell® Pediococcus acidilactici (CNCM MA 18/5 M) (109 UFC/kg of feed) of laying hens producing eggs for industrial transformations, during the whole productive cycle significantly improved productive performances, as previously reported by other autors. As observed by other authors, these results could be related to the activity of probiotics in modulating the gut microbial population and in the improvement of the intestinal epithelium. In conclusion, we observed that administration of the probiotic led to an increase in the efficiency of nutrient absorption, with a higher egg laying rate percentage and an improved feed conversion rate.
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