Comparison of inert markers [chromic oxide or insoluble ash (Celite)] for determining apparent metabolizable energy of wheat- or barley-based broiler diets with or without enzymes

Poult Sci. 1997 Apr;76(4):594-8. doi: 10.1093/ps/76.4.594.


A broiler chick bioassay was used to measure the effect of two inert digestibility markers on the determination of dietary AME. Diets contained 80% of either wheat or barley (with or without enzyme) and either chromic oxide at 0.5% or one of three levels of insoluble ash (0.5, 1.0, or 1.5%) as markers. The various cereal and marker diet combinations were consumed ad libitum (0 to 21 d) by two groups of 10 male broilers in each of two trials. The AME of each diet was determined by measuring the respective marker ratios between diet and excreta (collected for 24 h at 7 or 21 d) or ileal digesta collected at 21 d. Growth and feed conversion were measured on each group of birds between 0 and 21 d. There was no effect of marker on growth or feed efficiency. However, determination of AME of wheat- or barley-based diets with or without enzymes were affected by choice of marker and whether markers were measured in excreta (7 or 21 d) or ileal digesta. Chromic oxide was viewed as the least accurate method for determining AME, based on chronic oxide's inability to define AME differences between barley-based diets with and without enzymes, whereas insoluble ash clearly demonstrated improved AME of wheat- and barley-based diets with an enzyme. The optimum levels of insoluble ash for accuracy and repeatability were between 0.5 and 1.0%. The AME of the diets were, on average, 5% lower when determined with 7 vs 21 d excreta and 2.5% lower for ileal digesta than excreta collected at 21 d. It was concluded that identification of components that result in variability in AME levels of diets will be improved if a bioassay uses insoluble ash as a marker.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Chickens / growth & development
  • Chickens / metabolism*
  • Chickens / physiology
  • Chromium Compounds / analysis*
  • Diatomaceous Earth / analysis*
  • Diet / veterinary*
  • Digestion / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Enzymes / administration & dosage
  • Enzymes / pharmacology*
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Food, Fortified
  • Hordeum / metabolism*
  • Ileum / chemistry
  • Male
  • Triticum / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Chromium Compounds
  • Enzymes
  • Diatomaceous Earth
  • chromic oxide