This study aimed to investigate the role of the probiotic Aspergillus niger on the production performance, egg quality, and cecal microbial load of Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella spp., and Escherichia coli in Hy-Line W-36 laying hens. A total of 72, 45-week-old Hy-Line W-36 laying hens were randomly allocated to one of the three dietary treatments with six replicates, and each replicate had four individually caged laying hens (n = 6 and 4 hens/replicate). The hens in each treatment group were fed a corn and soybean meal diet (Control), a diet supplemented with bacitracin methylene disalicylate (BMD) at a rate of 495 mg/kg of feed (Positive Control), or a diet supplemented with Aspergillus niger (Probioist®) at a rate of 220 mg/kg of feed (Probiotic). Supplementing probiotics in the laying hen diet significantly increased egg production at weeks 3 and 6 compared with the Positive Control. Haugh unit, a measure of egg quality, was significantly higher in laying hens fed the probiotic diet compared with the Control or Positive Control at week 10. Furthermore, the Probiotic group had numerically lower cecal microbial loads of pathogenic bacteria (Clostridium perfringens, Salmonella spp., and Escherichia coli) compared with the Control and Positive Control groups. The results suggest that Aspergillus niger could be used as a probiotic to improve laying hen performance and egg quality.
Keywords: Aspergillus niger; Clostridium perfringens; Escherichia coli; Salmonella spp.; egg production; egg quality; probiotics.