Effect of Different Levels of Silymarin (Silybum marianum) on Growth Rate, Carcass Variables and Liver Morphology of Broiler Chickens Contaminated with Aflatoxin B1

Document Type: Original Paper


1 Department of Animal Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Birjand, Birjand, Iran.

2 Department of Animal Health Management, School of Veterinary Medicine, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran.


This experiment was conducted to evaluate the ability of Silybum marianum seeds (SMS) on performance, carcass variables, and liver morphology of the broiler chickens contaminated with aflatoxin B1 (AFB1). A total of 216 broiler chicks (Ross 308) were used. Birds were randomly assigned to nine treatment groups, with four replicates and six birds in each replicate. Chickens were reared on litter from 1 to 35 days of age. Treatments were (AFB1) in three levels (Zero, 250 and 500 ppb) and SMS in three levels (Zero, 0.5 and 1.0 percent) using factorial experiment based on completely randomized design. Feed intake at the end of the three weeks did not significantly change in comparison with the control group. With the increase in the level of (AFB1) in the diet, feed intake and body weight gain were decreased compared with the control group in week 4. Feed conversion ratio was not influenced by the treatments. In diets containing AFB1, breast muscle, carcass ratio, abdominal fat and bursal gland weight were significantly decreased (P1 alone did not affect thigh, back, neck, wings, heart, legs and spleen weights. Increasing the level of SMS in the diet alone or in combination with AFB1 resulted in significant changes in the weights of carcass and internal organs. Liver of birds fed diets containing AFB1 showed abnormal signs including enlargement, yellowish, friable and rounded shape. Liver of other treatments did not show any abnormal signs. In conclusion, these findings suggest that silymarin might be used in chickens to prevent the effects of AFB1 in contaminated feed. 


Arafa AS, Bloomer R­J, Wilson HR, Simpson C­F & Harms RH. 1981. Susceptibility of various poultry species to dietary aflatoxin. British Poultry Science, 22: ­431–436.

Arshad S, Khan MZ, Siddique M, Javed M­T & Khan HA. 1992. Clinico pathological studies of experimentally induced mycotoxicosis in broiler chickens. Pakistan Veterinary Journal, 12: ­183-185.

Chakarverty A & Parsad J. 1991. Study on the effect of Milk Thistle extract on the performance of broiler chicks. Indian Poultry Advises, 24: ­37-38.

Chand N, Din Muhammad FR, Durrani M & Sahibzada S. 2011. Protective Effects of Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) against Aflatoxin B1 in Broiler Chicks. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, 24: ­1011–1018.

Doerr JA, Huff W­E, Wabeck C­J, Chaloupka GW, May JD & Merkeley JW. 1983. Effects of low-level chronic aflatoxicosis in broiler chickens. Poultry Science, 62: 1971–1977.

Emerole G­O, Neskovic N & Dixon RL. 1979. The detoxification of aflatoxin B1 with glutathione in the rat. Xenobiotica, 9: ­737–743.

Essigmann J­M, Croy RG, Bennett RA & Wogan GN. 1982. Metabolic activation of aflatoxin B1: Patterns of DNA adduct formation, removal, and excretion in relation to carcinogenesis. Drug Metabolism Reviews, 13: ­581–602.

Galvano F, Ritieni A, Piva G & Pietri A. 2005. Mycotoxins in the human food chain. In: Diaz DE. (Eds). The mycotoxin blue book. Nottingham University Press. UK. Pages, 187–224.

Gowda S­K & Sastry V­RB. 2000. Neem (Azadirachta indica) seed cake in animal feeding-scope and limitation-Review. Asian Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, 13: ­720-728.

Kalorey D­R, kurkure NV, Ramgaonkar I­S, Sakhare P­S, Warke S & Nigot NK. 2005. Effect of polyherbal feed supplement “Growell” during induced aflatoxicosis, ochratoxicosis and combined mycotoxicoses in broilers. Asian-Australian Journal of Animal Science, 18: 375-383.

Luper S. 1998. A review of plants used in the treatment of liver disease: Part I. Alternative Medicine review, 3: ­410–421.

Magliulo E, Carosi PG, Minoli L & Gorini S. 1973. Studies on the regenerative capacity of the liver in rats subjected to partial hepatectomy and treated with silymarin. Arzneimittelforschung, 23: ­161–167.

Rahim M, Siddique S, Sindhu TA­K & Khan MA. 1999. Immuno-modulatory and growth-inhibitory effects of mycotoxins (Aflatoxin Bi) in broiler chickens and the reversal influence of hydrated sodium calcium aluminosilicate. Pakistan Journal of Biological Science, 2: 1027-1029.

Sabri MA, Siddique M, Khan MZ & Samad H­A. 1989. Prevalence and pathology of mycotoxicosis in young broiler chicks in and around Faisalabad. Pakistan Veterinary Journal, 9: 106-108.

SAS (Statistical Analysis System). 2001. SAS/STAT® 6. User,s Guide. SAS Institute Inc. Cary, NC.

Skottova N, Vecera R, Urbanek K, Vana P, Walterova D & Cvak L. 2003. Effects of polyphenolic fractions of silymarin on lipoprotein profile in rats fed cholesterol-rich diets. Pharmacological Research, 47: 17–26.

Tedesco D, Domeneghini C, Sciannimanico D, Tameni M, Steidler S & Galletti S. 2004. Efficacy of silymarinphospholipid complex in reducing the toxicity of aflatoxin B1 in broiler chicks. Poultry Science, 83: 1839-1843.

Yunus AW, Ghareeb K, Abd-El-Fattah AAM, Twaruzek M & Böhm B. 2011. Gross intestinal adaptations in relation to broiler performance during a chronic aflatoxin exposure. Poultry Science, 90: 1683-1689.

Zahid R & Durrani FR. 2007. Biochemical, hematological, immunological and growth promotant role of feed added Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) in broiler chicks. M.Sc (Hons) thesis submitted to NWFP Agricultural University. Peshawar, Pakistan.

Please cite this article as: Fani Makki O, Afzali N & Omidi A. 2013. Effect of different levels of silymarin (Silybum marianum) on growth rate, carcass variables and liver morphology of broiler chickens contaminated with aflatoxin B1. Poult. Sci. J. 1 (2): 105-116.
Please cite this article as: Hosseini SA, Meimandipour A, Lotfollahian H, Babaei M & Aghashahi AR. 2014. Choosing a commercial broiler strain based on multicriteria decision analysis. Poult. Sci. J. 2 (1): 51-60.