Researchers in Egypt have conducted a study on broiler chickens, looking at the effect on health of formic acid and potassium diformate.
The acids are used as feed preservatives, helping to protect chicken feed against microbial and fungal damage. Organic acids are also known to suppress the growth of bacteria such as e-coli, salmonella and clostridium perfringens and enhance the digestibility of nitrogen, phosphorus and minerals.
The researchers investigated the potential of certain organic acids to improve gut health, and therefore to serve as alternatives to antibiotics. The study, which was carried out at the poultry research farm of the faculty of veterinary medicine of Cairo University, was published in the Journal of Animal Nutrition.
Researchers divided into three groups 360 one-day-old broiler chicks. Over the course of 35 days, the control group was fed a basic diet. The second group was fed the same diet supplemented with formic acid, and the third group was fed the same diet supplemented with potassium diformate.
The results show that formic acid supplementation had a beneficial effect on performance and immunity of broiler chickens without having any significantly effects on blood biochemical parameters. Formic acid was also shown to be effective against acid intolerant species such as e. coli, salmonella and clostridium count in caecum.
Potassium diformate was shown to be even more effective than formic acid, due to formic acid being more difficult to absorb.