The effect of dietary thyme-oil extract (TOE) supplementation on immune functions of broilers were assessed by feeding graded levels (50, 100, 200, or 400 ppm) of TOE to male broiler chicks during a 42-d feeding trial compared with negative- or positive-control diets. Dietary control treatments included a negative-control diet with no feed-additive supplementation and 2 positive-control groups supplemented with either virginiamycin or zinc bacitracin. In total, 300 1-day-old Ross × Ross male broilers were randomly assigned to 6 dietary treatments that consisted of 5 replicates of 10 birds each. On d 21 and 42, 2 birds from each replicate were killed by cervical cutting to measure the relative weights of spleen and bursa of Fabricius. At 25 d of age, chicks were injected with 0.5 mL of 10% SRBC suspension. Broilers fed with 200 ppm of TOE had heavier weights of bursa of Fabricius than those fed other dietary treatments at d 42 of age. Furthermore, dietary inclusion of 100 ppm of TOE resulted in higher (P < 0.05) total immunoglobulin response in primary antibody titer against sheep erythrocytes compared with other dietary treatments. On the other hand, diet modifications had no significant effect on blood leukocyte subpopulations and heterophil-to-lymphocyte ratio. These results suggest that dietary supplementation with TOE, especially at the level of 100 ppm, can improve immunological responses of broiler chicks.
Keywords: broiler chick; immune response; lymphoid organ; thyme-oil extract.
© 2015 Poultry Science Association Inc.