Can pre-natal nutrition program the gut microflora in birds?

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages
© GettyImages

Related tags Gut flora in-ovo feeding Broiler

The basic concept of in-ovo feeding is to supplement the amniotic fluid, which is the first meal of a chick before it hatches, in order to provide nutritional input that can help with the development of that young bird towards hatch, says Dr Peter Ferket, professor of nutrition and biotechnology, North Carolina State University.

He has been working with Dr Zehava Uni, profession of poultry nutrition, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel on in-ovo nutrition linked projects. Both experts will speak about their findings in relation to this during our live webinar next Tuesday, March 5​.

They will be joined by another pre-natal poultry nutrition specialist, David Peebles, who is a professor, Poultry Science Department, Mississippi State University.

Register now​ for this event.

Dr Ferket says that as the industry continues to selects birds for faster and faster growth, with the market weight retained, the knock-on effect of that is the perinatal period is accounting for a much greater proportion of the total growth now.

Industry, he said, knows a lot about the nutritional requirements of animals for growth performance post-hatch but very little about that before they hatch. “If we keep on this track of selecting birds for faster growth and efficiency improvements, the constraint becomes that perinatal nutrition aspect,”​ he told Engormix.

Dr Uni and Dr Ferket’s combined research has shown that in-ovo nutrition could impact breast meat yield, cell development for immunity, gut development and subsequent nutrient absorption. It might event program the gut microflora to respond a certain way.

There are multiple labs around the world working on in-ovo nutrition related research; it is on the cusp of being commercialized. The challenge is to create some sort of automated method of delivery of nutrients in-ovo in a way that is the most efficient within the scope of the hatchery, says Dr Ferket.

Post-hatch, early nutrition is also critical for programming the birds for optimal performance, he stressed.

We will hear more about this fascinating field of research and its potential for jumpstarting broiler health and performance next week. Join us​ and get ready to put your questions to those panel members in our live Q&A session. 

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