17 Feb 2021

Importance of hepatic protectors in the performance of broilers


Alfred Blanch

Sandra Olivera

Diamond V

Content available in: Español (Spanish)

The liver is the organ with higher vital functions for the animal organism, from which three of them are the most relevant:


It acts as a filter that processes and removes toxins from waste produced by the metabolism itself, toxins and harmful chemicals from the environment, and microorganisms eliminated by Kupffer cells.


It is the body’s primary energy storage organ due to the high glycogen levels (a source of carbohydrates) and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) that it is capable of storing.


It plays a significant role in the digestion and metabolization of nutrients (carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins) from the stimulation of bile acid synthesis.

The liver has a key role as the center of a series of metabolic and productive activities. Its level of activity will be directly proportional to the level at which the metabolism works.

This implies that during animal growth in intensive production systems, the liver is potentially exposed to damage caused by a wide variety of harmful substances derived from different metabolic processes (e.g., reactive oxygen species) and derived from other external to the body itself (xenobiotics).

As a consequence, under these conditions, the liver activity can be a limiting factor for productivity. In this way, using a liver protector in the feed will prevent this activity from decreasing, significantly improving the farm’s performance.

Under these premises, the use of a hepatoprotective additive in feed has two fundamental objectives:

  • Improve the integrity and regeneration of hepatocytes by optimizing the detoxification capacity of the liver. It will allow a better neutralization of damaging effects from mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides, antibiotics, and other substances such as chemical growth promoters, that may affect health and production performance.
  • Enhance the liver function by stimulating the activity of digestive enzymes that ensure optimal use of nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fat-soluble vitamins, increasing intestinal absorption and, therefore, bioavailability.


Liver protectors work by defending the liver from toxins and stimulating its function, leading to improvements in health, growth, and production.

There are two different types on the market:

  • Herbal origin: formed by combining a variable number of herbs with different hepatoprotective properties such as those contained in the product Livoliv 250®, a polyherbal mixture specially formulated for a continuous protective effect.
  • Methyl group donors: they are based on methyl groups’ ability to bind toxins, favoring their elimination from the body. Among the compounds capable of donating methyl groups, certain amino acids and their derivatives (e.g., methionine, carnitine, betaine, etc.), and vitamin derivatives are highlighted (e.g., choline).

Both can be in liquid or powder form. Liquid liver protectants are added to drinking water. They are generally used for healing purposes since birds affected by liver problems tend to decrease significantly their feed intake, but their fluid intake does not.

In all other situations, when used for preventive purposes, powdered liver protectors are the most widely used because they are more profitable.


The Livoliv 250® polyherbal mixture’s hepatoprotective efficacy was evaluated in 180 male Ross chickens from a commercial farm. They were transported 20 days after birth to a specific house where they received different feeding programs.

The 180 animals were divided into 6 repetitions of 3 groups of 10 animals each:

  • Group A (positive control): they were fed a standard diet.
  • Group B (negative control): they were fed a standard diet supplemented with 10% oxidized soybean oil and 0.5% ferrous sulfate.
  • Group C: same food as Group B but supplemented with 250 g of polyherbal mixture per ton of feed.
  • The study was carried out in the second growth period, between 20 and 42 days of age.
  • The birds were weighed individually at 20, 31, and 42 days, and mortality was recorded daily.
  • Feed consumption and the feed conversion ratio were measured on 31 and 42 days.
  • Blood tests and autopsies (liver weight) were also performed at 42 days.

At the end of the study, blood samples were obtained to evaluate the differences between treatments with respect to serum markers of liver inflammation; Aspartate transaminase (AST), and Alkaline phosphatase (ALP).

For the statistical study, an alpha of 5% was chosen.

The addition of oxidized soybean oil and high ferrous sulfate levels in the feed slightly reduced the growth performance but not significantly.

Supplementation with 250 g of polyherbal mixture per ton of feed significantly improved feed conversion ratio and body weight during the intoxication phase (days 20 to 31), indicating that this polyherbal mixture allows the liver to use the oil of oxidized soybeans as an energy source.


Optimizing the use of balanced feeds and increasing productivity are two of the most important aspects of the poultry industry.

Due to the importance of the liver has in digestion, absorption, and metabolization of nutrients, the use of liver protectors that stimulate its ability to eliminate harmful products, such as mycotoxins, heavy metals, pesticides, etc., is key.

Besides, carrying out adequate transport and the use of nutrients to guarantee an adequate recovery of the diet will improve the feed conversion index, development efficiency, and production performance. It will maximize the investment return made in the food.






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