A balanced commensal gastrointestinal tract microbiota relates to high productivity in poultry, while an undesirable microbiota is linked to local and systemic disorders, Dr. Denise Rodrigues with The Ohio State University noted in a presentation to the International Poultry Science Forum in Atlanta, Ga.
Pointing to prior work conducted with broiler chicks, Rodrigues said manipulation of gut microbiota with early (pre-hatch) exposure to probiotics led to reduced pathogen colonization, advanced immune system development and optimized growth.
Rodrigues discussed two different experimental models to address how early commensal bacteria exposure could affect the modulation of intestinal microbiota in ducklings at the day of hatch, along with study co-authors Jeremiah Cox, Alissa Hilsong, Whitney Briggs, Audrey Duff, Kaylin Chasser, Johel Bielke, Kim Wilson and Lisa Bielke with Ohio State and Chad Risch, Debbie Jeffrey and Dan Shafer with Maple Leaf Farms (abstract T133).
In the first experiment, embryos at 18 embryogenic day were introduced in ovo to either 200 μL of saline (control) or 102 colony-forming units (CFU) per milliliter of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) into the amnion, Rodrigues said.
In the second experiment, treatments included a spray application of 9.0 x 106 CFU/mL of LAB or control (without probiotic) through the top of the hatch cabinets containing eggs from poor-performing duck breeder flocks. The probiotic was applied five times every four hours on day 27 of incubation.
Rodrigues reported that in the first experiment, there was a significant increase (P < 0.05) in Lactobacillaceae and reduction in Enterococcaceae populations in LAB-treated birds.
She noted that in the second experiment, recovery of LAB from ducklings was significantly higher in LAB treatment compared to controls. Similarly, the application of the LAB probiotic in the hatcher cabinets decreased (P < 0.05) the recovery of Gram-negative bacteria from the ducklings.
In both experiments, early exposure to LAB probiotics was able to modify the microbiota composition concerning desirable bacteria growth in day-of-hatch poultry, Rodrigues concluded. Furthermore, LAB application in hatcher cabinets decreased colonization of Gram-negative bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of newly hatched ducklings, she said, suggesting that these strategies have the potential to minimize undesirable microbial colonization commonly acquired in the hatchery.