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Mannanoligosaccharide (MOS) in Broiler Ration during the Starter Phase: 1. Growth Performance and Intestinal Histomorpholgy




Mannanoligosaccharide (MOS) in Broiler Ration during the Starter Phase: 1. Growth Performance and Intestinal Histomorpholgy

Naila Chand1, Shamsullah1, Rafiullah1, Rifat Ullah Khan2, Muhammad Mobashar3, Shabana Naz4,*, Ebrahim Rowghani5 and Murad Ali Khan2

1Department of Poultry Science, The University of Agriculture, Peshawar, Pakistan

2Department of Animal Health, The University of Agriculture, Peshawar, Pakistan

3Department of Animal Nutrition, The University of Agriculture, Peshawar, Pakistan

4Department of Zoology, GC University, Faisalabad, Pakistan

5Department of Animal Sciences, College of Agriculture, Darab Branch, Islamic Azad University, Darab, Iran


The study was designed to elucidate the impact of mannanoligosaccharide (MOS) on the growth performance, weight of lymphoid organs and intestinal histomorphology of broilers during starter phase. A total of 180 day-old broiler chicks were distributed into 3 treatments, designated as MOS-0, MOS-50 and MOS-100 having MOS at the rate of 0, 50 and 100 g/kg respectively. Each treatment was further replicated 3 times having 10 chicks per replicate. Treatment MOS-0 was kept as control and the birds in this treatment were fed on basal ration without alteration in feed contents while the other treatments MOS-50 and MOS-100 represented 50 and 100 g MOS/kg feed, respectively during starter phase. Feed intake, weight gain and feed conversion ratio (FCR) were significantly (P<0.05) high in Treatment MOS-100 compared to the control. Similar trend was also observed in the weight of bursa,thymus and spleen. Significantly higher villus height, crypt depth and goblet cell count was recorded with MOS-100 while values lower with MOS-0 treatment. It was concluded that improvement in growth performance, intestinal histomorphology and relative weight of lymphoid organs in broiler chicks during starter phase was attributed to the supplementation of MOS.

Article Information

Received 01 November 2016

Revised 23 June 2017

Accepted 06 July 2018

Available online 05 December 2018

Authors’ Contribution

NC designed the study. Shamsullah and Rafiullah conducted the study. MM and SN edited the paper. ER and MAK analyzed the data. RUK proofread the paper.

Key words

Antibiotic growth promoter, Broiler starter phase, Mannanoligosaccharide, Prebiotic, Lymphoid organs and histomorphology.


* Corresponding author:

0030-9923/2019/0001-0173 $ 9.00/0

Copyright 2019 Zoological Society of Pakistan


Antibiotics as growth promoters keep healthy the intestines in broiler chicks by maintaining the balance of microbes and produce better performance and nutrient availability (Khan et al., 2012a, b). The effectiveness of these antibiotics has been decreased in humans (Khan et al., 2012c). Due to this reason, some countries banned the use of antibiotics as growth promoters (AGP) and there is possibility that using AGP can face such type of legislation in other areas of the world (Khan and Naz, 2013; Abudabos et al., 2016; Zia ur Rehman et al., 2017). Therefore, demand for using natural alternatives to sub-therapeutic antimicrobials is rising every day to develop farm performance and safety of broiler products (Khan et al., 2016; Abudabos et al., 2018; Rahman et al., 2017).

Among prebiotics, mannanoligosaccharides (MOS) has been well known as non-digestible feed ingredient and has been found beneficial for the host by motivating the growth or metabolic activity of intestinal microorganisms (Chand et al., 2016). MOS is the derivative of cell wall of yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and it can act as a substitute to antibiotic growth promoters. This is usually true in the early age when response to MOS appears to be more prominent in broiler chicks (Yang et al., 2007). The present study was planned to evaluate the effects of MOS on the growth performance, weight of lymphoid organs and intestinal histomorphology of broilers during the starter phase.


Materials and methods

This study was approved by the Committee of Ethics of Faculty of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences, The University of Agriculture, Peshawar.

Experimental animals, design and management

In the study, 180 day old broiler chicks were used and distributed randomly among 3 treatments; MOS-0, MOS-50 and MOS-100, each treatment with 30 birds with 3 replicates. The three treatments are represented as 0, 50 and 100 g/kg of feed. MOS-0 is represented as a control group without addition of MOS in feed. Basal diet was composed of yellow corn, 63.04%; soyabean meal, 33.00%; di calcium phosphate, 2.00%; sodium chloride, 0.3%; lime stone, 0.9%; vitamins and minerals, 0.3%; vegetable oil, 0.3%; methionine, 0.1% and lysine, 0.06%. The calculated values are: ME, 2900 Kcal/kg; Ca, 0.90%; P, 0.44%; methionine, 0.43%; methionine and cysteine, 0.75% and lysine, 1.10%.

Growth parameters

Daily feed intake was calculated by feed provided on the particular day minus feed leftover in feeder. Gain in body weight was calculated on weekly basis by recording weight at the end of trial minus weight at the beginning of trial. Feed conversion ratio (FCR) was calculated on completion of trial by total feed consumed by experimental birds divided by total weight gain in birds.

Measurement of lymphoid organs

At the end of starter phase, 2 broiler birds were selected per replicate and were slaughtered. Lymphoid organs (thymus, spleen and bursa of fabricius) were removed and weighed separately. Relative weight (%) of all these lymphoid organs was calculated by dividing organ weight to body weight of particular bird.

Lower ileum histomorphology

At the end of starter phase, 1 cm piece of the lower ileum from 2 broiler birds from all replicates was removed and fixed in 10% formalin. The intestinal parts/sections were sliced into 5 mm parts and fixed in paraffin. The goblet cells counts were obtained per villus and the villus area was taken from 4 villi/3 tissues per slide. From 20 readings of goblet cell count, mean number of goblet cells per bird was obtained. Villus height was calculated from the top of lamina propria to the top of villus. Crypt depth was considered from the base up to the area of conversion between villus and crypt.

Statistical analysis

The statistical analysis was performed in SAS 9.2 (SAS, 2003) using a completely randomized design and least significant difference (LSD) was used for statistical difference among various experimental treatments. The individual broiler bird was the experimental unit for all analysis. Data were analyzed by one-way ANOVA. Duncan multiple range tests were used to compare means. Significance was declared at P<0.05.



Effect of various levels of dietary MOS on total feed intake, body weight gain and FCR is presented in Table I. These growth indicators were significantly (P<0.05) affected by different dietary MOS. Increased feed intake and body weight gain at higher level of MOS (MOS-100 g/kg of feed) was observed. The highest overall FCR was observed in MOS-0 and the least (good) FCR was recorded for group MOS-100. Lowest values of feed intake and body weight gain were found with MOS-0 followed by MOS-50 and MOS-100 g/kg of feed, which indicated that an increase in dietary MOS resulted in improved growth performance of the broiler birds.

Mean relative weight of lymphoid organs (bursa of fabrics, thymus and spleen) is presented in Table I. Weight of studied lymphoid organs is significantly (P<0.05) different at all levels of MOS. It was noticed that MOS at the rate of 100 g/kg produced a significant increase in the relative weight of lymphoid organs. The heavier weight was noticed for bursa, thymus and spleen, respectively in MOS-100, followed by MOS-50 and MOS-0 (control treatment).


Table I.- Effect of dietary levels of mannanoligosaccharides (MOS) on feed intake (g), body weight gain (g) and feed conversion ratio, weight of lymphoid organs, villus height, crypt depth and goblet cell count of broiler birds during starter phase.

MOS-0 (n=3)

MOS-50 (n=3)

MOS-100 (n=3)

P value

Feed intake

2216.7± 5.43c

2329.8± 6.05 b

2419.3± 5.24 a


Body weight gain

1212.7± 3.24c

1292.2± 5.10 b

1298.4± 3.37 a


Feed conversion ration

1.82± 0.11 a

1.74± 0.09 b

1.63± 0.05 c


Lymphoid organs

Bursa (g)

0.26± 0.06 b

0.27± 0.05 a

0.29± 0.09 a


Thymus (g)

0.37 ± 0.16 c

0.38 ± 0.07 b

0.40 ± 0.07 a


Spleen (g)

0.073 ± 0.06c

0.077 ± 0.07 b

0.083± 0.02 a


Villus height (µm)

91.4±1.64 c

94.7 ± 2.14 b

95.3 ± 2.34 a


Crypt depth (µm)

76.3 ± 2.00 c

79.2 ± 5.29 b

81.5 ± 3.60 a


Goblet cell count

112.3 ± 1.00 c

115.7 ± 2.64 b

119.1 ± 4.08 a


a ,b ,c Value in each column followed by different superscripts are significantly different (P<0.05). MOS, mannanoligosaccharide. MOS-0, MOS-50 and MOS-100 represent 0, 50 and 100 g of MOS/kg feed, respectively.


Mean values of villus height, crypt depth and goblet cell count are given in Table I. Analysis of data indicated the significant effect of MOS on villus height, crypt depth and goblet cells count. It was observed that higher level of treatment resulted in the maximum increase in villus height followed by MOS-50 and control treatment. Similar significant increasing tendency was also observed with crypt depth and goblet cells count by showing higher value at MOS-100.




MOS in the diet in the present study showed enhancement in feed intake of broiler birds. This enhancement may be linked with the proper microbial population in the intestinal tract which has a fundamental role in gut health and overall performance of the chickens (Thongsong et al., 2008). Decreasing stress on chickens by Sacchromyces cerevisiae, which is a cell wall extract could be suggested as one of the factors resulting in higher feed consumption (Hyginus et al., 2003). The repressive effect of MOS on enteric pathogens and improved reliability of the intestinal mucosa of broiler birds may be another possible reason for enhancement of feed intake (Spring et al., 2000). These findings are also in line with the findings of other authors (Koc et al., 2010; Sultan et al., 2015).

Enhancement in body weight of broiler birds might be due to better nutrient consumption (Bardley and Savage, 1994). This might also be correlated to enhanced microbial flora to make broiler birds for better nutrient absorption and decrease nutrient losses. The results of body weight gain revealed that significant improvement in crypt depth, vllii height and goblet cell counts due to MOS could be the possible reasons for better absorption of nutrients and therefore higher gain in body weight.

Improved FCR could be related to positive impact of MOS on digestion and gut health. Due to decrease in pathogen microbes that struggle for nutrients consumption could also be the cause of better FCR (Spring et al., 2000). Improved FCR was also reported by Kamran et al. (2013) who studied the performance of broiler birds fed MOS during starter phase. Better FCR was also reported by Pelicano et al. (2004) and Yang et al. (2007) when birds were fed MOS.

Increased relative weight of lymphoid organs at higher level of MOS in the current study was supported by Teo and Tan et al. (2007) who reported positive effect of MOS on nourishing the beneficial bacterial population in the intestines. Furthermore, according to above authors, broiler birds fed MOS at different levels of MOS have increased weight of lymphoid organs in comparison to control treatment which might be due to decreasing effect of MOS population of pathogenic microbes in the gut and therefore better health status of broiler birds. Enhanced villi height in the present study observed with MOS dietary supplementation could be related with improved microbial count of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli in the gut. Moreover, decrease in development in pathogenic microbes in intestine and necessary anti-nutritional factors in the feed decreasing inflammatory reaction of mucosa in the intestines could also be the possible reason for increased villi height (Iji and Tivey, 1998). MOS improved goblet cell count in the small intestine in our study that in turns increased mucin secretion that helped in elimination of the pathogenic microbes and presented a decent situation for assimilation of nutrients and digestion. Results on improvement in goblet cells density in broiler birds due to MOS feeding in diet are in agreement with Uni and Smironov (2006).




Based on results of this study, supplementation of MOS up to 100 g/kg of feed can be used to improve growth performance, weight of lymphoid organs and histomorphology in term of villi height, crypt depth and Gobler cells count of broilers birds during starter phase.


Statement of conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.




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