Mycotoxins are secondary fungal metabolites of structurally diverse groups occurring worldwide as contaminants of cereals such as wheat, corn, maize, peanut, and barley, which comprise the main ingredients of poultry diets. Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) has wide range of beneficial properties, including data showing its positive effects in protecting the liver of birds exposed to aflatoxins. Trials have shown that in broilers affected by aflatoxicosis, which adversely affected feed intake, weight gain, feed efficiency, serum biochemistry and immune status, supplementation of diets with silymarin reduced the detrimental effects, thereby improving the productivity and health. Although promising results have been reported, established doses and further research on the standardisation of this herb will increase its uses as alternative to synthetic drugs. The following review discusses several important aspects of the beneficial properties of milk thistle on poultry growth performance in experimentally induced aflatoxicosis.
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