Immunomodulatory and hepatoprotective role of feed-added Berberis lycium in broiler chicks.

A large number of plants and their isolates have been shown to potentiate immunity. Some plants exert anti-inflammatory and anti-stress effects, others hepatoprotective activity. In this study, 320 1-day-old broiler chicks were randomly divided into four major groups A, B, C and D and fed rations supplemented with 0, 15, 20 and 22.5 g Berberis lycium kg⁻¹ ration respectively. Each group was further divided into two subgroups, one vaccinated against Newcastle disease (ND) and infectious bursal disease (IBD), the other non-vaccinated. Antibody titre against IBD and ND, relative weight of lymphoid organs, post-challenge morbidity and mortality, serum hepatic enzymes and total serum protein were observed.

The birds were challenged to field IBD through intramuscular injection at a dose rate of 0.5 mL per bird. Post-challenge morbidity was lowest in groups C and D, while treatment significantly (P < 0.001) affected mortality amongst affected (morbid) birds. Levels of serum alanine aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase were lowest in group C. Serum protein was similar in all groups and in both vaccinated and non-vaccinated broiler chicks. Berberis lycium added to feed at 20 g kg⁻¹ is effective in improving immunity against ND and IBD as well as liver function in broiler chicks.

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