2010 - 2013

Distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) as a potential source of immunostimulatory and growth promoting activity for poultry

Principal Investigator: Bogdan Slominski, University of Manitoba
Co-investigator: Juan C. Rodriguez-Lecompte, University of Manitoba
Status: Completed


To investigate the effects on broiler health of supplementing rations with corn/wheat DDGS and/or yeast-derived products


It is estimated that over a million tonnes of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) from Canadian ethanol plants will be available for feeding livestock and poultry each year. These products may have unrealized value to the poultry industry. For example, there is evidence that co-products from brewer’s yeast used during the production of DDGS may enhance poultry gut development and stimulate immune function. Dr. Slominski’s group is comparing the effects of corn/wheat DDGS and yeast-derived products (brewer’s yeast, Yeas Cell Wall (YCW), Maxi-Gen Plus, Hi-Yeast 751) on broiler performance. Specific measurements include changes in gastrointestinal development, immune function and growth performance. The effect of first treating the products with various enzymes is also being examined.


  • The researchers have thoroughly characterized a number of DDGS and yeast-derived products and identified enzymes that effectively release active yeast cell wall components.
  • Addition of live brewer’s yeast to feed resulted in decreased body weight gain and feed efficiency. There were no other diet effects on growth performance.
  • Both live brewer’s yeast and YCW negatively affected development of the small intestine in broiler chicks. Hi-Yeast 751 (nucleotide-rich product), on the other hand, appeared to promote intestinal development.
  • Preliminary results suggest it may not be wise to add live brewer’s yeast to broiler diets. The researchers will compare effects of inactivated yeast.
  • The effects of these products on immune system gene expression, both in cultured cells and in broiler chickens, was examined. Results thus far are mixed, but there is some indication that DDGS and nucleotides (e.g. Hi-Yeast 751) do have the potential to stimulate innate (natural) immunity. However, the supplements did not protect birds from challenge with Clostridium perfringens, the causative organism of necrotic enteritis. Gene expression changes during the challenge study are being further characterized in an effort to explain these results.


Adequate assessment of the overall health effects of feeding DDGS and yeast-derived co-products will help broiler producers make informed decisions about including these ingredients in feed rations. Inclusion of these ingredients may significantly reduce feed costs and promote bird health.


$321,000 (CPRC $54,000, NSERC-CRD $174,000, Canadian BioSystems $54,000 (including $9,000 in-kind), PIC $39,000)

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