He addressed the issue of microbiota transfer and development in newly hatched chicks; he and his team have been researching microbiota transfer between a hen and chicks and identifying isolates or their mixtures that may mimic that transfer.
He said they have shown that caecal microbiota development is different in chicks and chicks raised with or without contact with an adult hen.
The researchers saw that Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, Selenomonadales and Faecalibacterium were efficiently transferred from donor hens to chicks.
They never recorded the transfer of Lactobacilli or Clostridiales.
The knowledge obtained, he told attendees at YAN20, can be used to identify bacterial genera which are efficiently transferred from hens to chicks followed by their isolation in pure culture.
Administration of pure cultures of such isolates or their mixtures should then mimic the natural transfer from a hen to chicks and improve the gut health of the chicks from the very first days of life. However, this can be achieved only using an evidence-based approach, reflecting principles of natural microbiota transfer between a hen and a chick, he said.
Field trials in commercial poultry barns in 2019, distributing the cultures via drinking water, did not deliver the results expected but the team is now carrying out further work in this respect, using fermented feed as a means of distributing the cultures instead, and they are also evaluating the impact of spraying their cultures on eggs in hatcheries.