How Fermented Sweet Potato Impacts Chicken Nutrition and Meat Quality

Jenn Hoskins
14th May, 2024

How Fermented Sweet Potato Impacts Chicken Nutrition and Meat Quality

Image Source: Graeme Travers (photographer)

Key Findings

  • In China, fermented sweet potato residue (FSPR) is tested as a corn substitute in poultry feed
  • FSPR diets (up to 10%) maintain growth and improve meat quality in yellow-feathered broilers
  • Higher FSPR levels in feed enhance broiler immune function and gut bacteria diversity
In the quest for sustainable animal feed solutions, researchers from the Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Sciences have made significant strides with the use of fermented sweet potato residue (FSPR) as a potential substitute for corn in poultry diets[1]. This innovative approach not only addresses the economic challenges of feed production but also taps into the benefits of fermentation to enhance feed quality and animal health. The study embarked on a two-part experiment to evaluate the impact of FSPR on yellow-feathered broilers, a popular poultry breed in Asia. Initially, the research team analyzed the nutrient composition and digestibility of FSPR at various inclusion levels. They discovered that a mixture containing 70% sweet potato residue, post-fermentation, yielded the highest levels of protein, fat, and fiber, and significantly improved the digestibility of these nutrients. The second phase of the experiment involved feeding broilers diets with varying levels of FSPR (0%, 5%, 8%, and 10%) as a corn substitute for 70 days. Remarkably, while growth performance and intestinal structure remained largely unaffected, there were notable improvements in meat quality parameters such as slaughter rate, meat color, and reduced cooking loss. Moreover, broilers on 8% and 10% FSPR diets exhibited higher levels of serum immunoglobulins, indicative of enhanced immune function. The study's exploration of intestinal microbes revealed that a 10% FSPR diet increased the diversity of the gut microbiota, as well as the abundance of certain beneficial bacterial groups. Interestingly, these microbial changes correlated with improvements in meat color, suggesting a link between gut health and meat quality. These findings resonate with earlier research demonstrating the influence of diet on gastrointestinal ecology and performance in animals. For instance, a study on pigs[2] highlighted how fermented liquid feed could reduce undesirable bacteria in the gut, although it led to lower weight gain compared to nonfermented feed. Similarly, the current research shows that FSPR can modulate the gut microbiota of broilers, potentially leading to better meat quality without compromising growth. The importance of gut flora extends beyond animal husbandry into human health, as evidenced by a study on the Taiwanese population[3]. This study found significant differences in the gut bacterial communities of individuals with varying body mass indices, emphasizing the role of microbiota in obesity. Furthermore, the use of specific lactic acid bacteria strains in fermentation processes has been shown to improve the safety and quality of fermented foods[4]. The positive effects of such strains on the bacterial community and the production of short-chain fatty acids in the human intestine are akin to the beneficial impact of FSPR on broiler gut health observed in the current study. In summary, the research conducted by the Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Sciences, presents FSPR as a viable alternative to conventional corn-soybean meal diets for broilers. The study not only highlights the potential economic and environmental benefits of using FSPR but also its role in enhancing meat quality and gut health, which could have broader implications for both animal and human nutrition. This research ties into a growing body of evidence underscoring the critical interplay between diet, gut microbiota, and overall health, paving the way for more sustainable and health-conscious farming practices.

AgricultureNutritionAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Effects of fermented sweet potato residue on nutrient digestibility, meat quality, and intestinal microbes in broilers.

Published 13th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Fermented and nonfermented liquid feed to growing pigs: effect on aspects of gastrointestinal ecology and growth performance.

Journal: Journal of animal science, Issue: Vol 81, Issue 8, Aug 2003

3) Systematic analysis of the association between gut flora and obesity through high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics approaches.

4) Lactobacillus plantarum ZJ316 improves the quality of Stachys sieboldii Miq. pickle by inhibiting harmful bacteria growth, degrading nitrite and promoting the gut microbiota health in vitro.

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