The objective of the study was to investigate the possibility that tandem inclusions of a reducing agent and a protease may advantage chicken-meat production and to ascertain if the established benefits of including sodium metabisulphite in sorghum-based diets extend to wheat-based diets. The study comprised a 2 × 2 × 2 factorial array of treatments in which either nutritionally iso-nitrogenous and iso-energetic wheat- or sorghum-based diets, without and with sodium metabisulphite (2.75 g/kg), without and with protease (1,000 units/kg) were offered to broiler chickens from 7 to 28 days post–hatch. The effects of dietary treatments on growth performance, nutrient utilisation, protein (N) and starch digestibility coefficients and digestive dynamics were determined. A preliminary investigation into the effects of two treatments on concentrations of free amino acids and glucose in the portal circulation was conducted. There was significant feed grain by sodium metabisulphite interactions (P = 0.03 to 0.005) for parameters of nutrient utilisation (AME, ME:GE ratios, N retention, AMEn). For example, sodium metabisulphite inclusions in sorghum-based diets enhanced AME by 0.18 MJ (12.47 versus 12.29 MJ/kg) but depressed AME by 0.43 MJ (11.88 versus 12.31 MJ/kg) in wheat-based diets. There was a linear relationship between starch:protein disappearance rate ratios in the distal ileum with weight gain (r = −0.484; P = 0.0012) indicating that condensed ratios (or absorption of more protein relative to starch) advantaged growth performance. Concentrations of free amino acids in the portal circulation or the post-enteral availability of certain amino acids, including the branched-chain amino acids, methionine, phenylalanine and threonine, were significantly correlated to FCR. For example, threonine concentrations were negatively correlated to FCR (r = −0.773; P = 0.005). Finally, tandem inclusions of sodium metabisulphite and protease in sorghum-based diets may hold merit but it appears that the established 'energy sparing' effects of sodium metabisulphite inclusions in sorghum-based diets are not duplicated in wheat-based diets.
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- Amino acids
- Broiler chickens
- Sodium metabisulphite