Dr. Nathan Collins, Ph.D.

Dr. Nathan Collins earned his B.S. in Poultry Science from Virginia Tech and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Poultry Nutrition from Auburn University and has over 20 years of experience in the U.S. broiler production industry. His areas of expertise include disease prevention and control with a specialized expertise in broilers and poultry nutrition.

Boosting Poultry Health and Performance with β-mannanase

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Posted by Dr. Nathan Collins on 4 June, 2024

Identifying and correcting for factors that inhibit energy and nutrient utilization is crucial for successful poultry production. Anti-nutritional β-mannans are found in many plant-based feedstuffs. In fact, an estimated 15%-37% of the total non-starch polysaccharides (NSPs) in poultry diets are β-mannans1

Controlled research studies suggest as little as 0.05% dietary soluble β-mannan is sufficient to cause intestinal inflammation, negatively impacting intestinal health and subsequent animal performance2. Enzymes such as Elanco’s Hemicell™ help to break down β-mannans so energy is not wasted on feed-induced immune response (FIIR).   

Why are ß-mannans of concern in poultry production? 

A substance that "looks like" a pathogen to the animal's innate immune system is what scientists call a Pathogen Associated Molecular Pattern (PAMP)3. Because of PAMPs, β-mannan molecules can elicit an innate immune response that unnecessarily diverts and wastes valuable energy and nutrients that would otherwise be used for growth and production4. Experiments with different β-mannan sources have demonstrated that they can be intensely anti-nutritional in monogastric species, leading to reductions in intestinal integrity5.  

The Impact of β-Mannans on Poultry Health  

FIIR is an acronym for the Feed-Induced Immune Response. It’s a term for the innate immune system response that is triggered when a PAMP is recognized by immune system receptors in the intestinal tract. The innate immune system responds with this generic defense to any perceived threat but does not confer long-lasting or protective immunity to the host6. PAMP’s do not initiate the processes needed to develop immunity7 rather, they will continue to elicit a similar innate response every time they are recognized by immune system receptors. Thus, the potential performance liability from the FIIR is independent of bird age. 

Physiological risks from the FIIR associated with β-mannans include: 

  • Reduced intestinal integrity and increased threat from intestinal lesions. 
  • Increased gut digesta viscosity and associated decreases in nutrient absorption. 
  • Reduced nitrogen retention. 
  • Reduced water and fat absorption. 
  • Substandard growth and performance. 

 Positive Outcomes from β-Mannanase Supplementation 

Degrading β-mannans with Hemicell™ enhances performance metrics in poultry by reducing unnecessary immune system stress, promoting gut health, and conserving energy and nutrients for productive work. Supplementation of β-mannanase in poultry feeding programs can lead to improved intestinal health, growth rate, flock uniformity, and enhanced economic efficiency in poultry production systems.  

Hemicell™ in Feed Formulation 

Elanco’s Hemicell™ supplies the β-mannanase enzyme in poultry feed to effectively degrade the problematic β-mannans.  

Use of Hemicell™ is a purpose-fit strategy for addressing the risks commonly associated with β-mannans in feedstuffs 1. Investing in enzyme supplementation is essential for modern poultry diets as it will benefit bird performance with the potential for improved live production costs over time.  

Hemicell™ is a trademark of Elanco or its affiliates. 


Nutritional Health

Intestinal Integrity

1 Kiarie, E.G., Steelman, S., & Livingston, K. 2021. “Significance of single β-mannanase supplementation on performance and energy utilization in broiler chickens, laying hens, turkeys, sows, and nursery-finish pigs: A meta-analysis and systematic review.” Translational Animal Science. 5.4:1-21  

2 Jang, K.B., Kim, Y.I., Duarte, M.E., & Kim, S.W.2024. “Effects of β-mannanase supplementation on intestinal health and growth of nursery pigs.” Journal of Animal Science. 102.1-12. 

3 Zhang, L. and Tizard, I.R. 1996. “Activation of a mouse macrophage cell line by acemannan: the major carbohydrate fraction from Aloe vera gel.” Immunopharmacology. 35.2:119-128.  

4 Arsenault, R.J., Lee, J. T., Latham, R., Carter, B., & Kogut, M. H. 2017. “Changes in immune and metabolic gut response in broilers fed β-mannanase in β-mannan-containing diets.” Poultry Science. 96.12:4307-4316.  

5 White, D., Adhikari, R., Wang, J., Chen, C., Lee, J. H., & Kim, W. K. (2021). “Effects of dietary protein, energy and β-mannanase on laying performance, egg quality, and ileal amino acid digestibility in laying hens.” Poultry Science. 100.9. 101312 

6 Korver, D.R. 2006. “Overview of the Immune Dynamics of the Digestive System.” Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 15:123-135.  

7 Gabay, C. and Kushner, I. 1999. “Acute phase proteins and other systemic responses to inflammation.” The New England Journal of Medicine. 340.6:448-454.