Mycotoxin exposure is common in the poultry industry. Deoxynivalenol (DON) is usually detected at levels below the maximum threshold (5000 ppb), but depending on diet and age, broiler performance can be affected. We evaluated the effects of 900 ppb and 2300 ppb DON on the performance, intestinal morphometry, and lesion scores of broiler chickens. One-day-old male Ross broilers (n
= 736) were divided into 4 treatments with 8 replicates each, and a pen containing 23 birds was the experimental unit. The animals were fed diets naturally contaminated with two levels of DON: 900 (Low DON—LD) or 2300 (Moderate DON—MD) ppb, with or without activated charcoal, over 28 days. After this, all birds were fed a marginally DON-contaminated diet without charcoal. During the first 28 days, body weight gain (BWG) and feed conversion ratio (FCR) were significantly impaired when broilers were fed a MD diet without activated charcoal. Even after feeding a marginally contaminated diet from D28–35, birds previously fed the MD diet presented a significantly lower performance. The villus height:crypt depth (VH:CD) ratio was significantly higher in the ileum from 14-day-old broilers fed the MD when compared with the LD diet. At D28, the MD diet caused decreased villus height (VH) and increased crypt depth (CD), affecting VH:CD ratio in both intestinal segments, with higher levels in the jejunum from 28-day-old broilers fed a non-supplemented LD diet. Broiler production was negatively affected by DON, even at moderate levels (2300 ppb).
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