19 commentsupdate:Apr 10, 2007

Egg Yolk Antibodies; an Alternative to Antibiotics?

Antimicrobials have been used in the poultry industry for growth promotion, disease prevention, and treatment of infections for many years. However, evidence is mounting that resistant bacteria or resistance determinants might be passed from animals to humans. This situation has put a lot of pressure on the poultry industry to withdraw or limit antibiotic use in animal feed and to look for viable alternatives. (Comments 15)

Antimicrobials have been used in the poultry industry for growth promotion (sub-therapeutic doses), disease prevention (prophylactic doses), and treatment of infections for many years. Microbiological and clinical evidence is mounting that resistant bacteria or resistance determinants might be passed from animals to humans, resulting in infections that are more difficult to treat. This situation has put tremendous pressure on the poultry industry to withdraw or limit antibiotic use in animal feed and to look for viable alternatives.
Egg yolk antibodies
Oral immunotherapy (passive immunization) with specific antibodies is a strategy that has been actively pursued in laboratory and clinical studies for the last two decades. Feeding of specific egg yolk antibodies to neutralize pathogens especially enteric microorganisms is one of the potential alternatives to antibiotics. Oral administration of these antibodies has had some degree of success in prevention of viral and bacterial enteric infections in humans, piglets, calves, and fish.
Applications in poultry
Egg yolk antibodies produced against Salmonella spp. can reduce intestinal colonization of these bacteria in poultry. It has been shown that a combination of probiotics and egg yolk antibodies may be more effective in reducing the colonization of S. enteritidis in poultry. Beneficial effects of egg yolk antibody administration have also been reported against Campylobacter jejuni, E.coli infections, infectious bursal disease, and Newcastle disease.
Where do we go from here?
There are still many obstacles which make oral administration of antibodies in commercial poultry a difficult goal to achieve. Getting approval from regulatory authorities, cost of production of antibodies in large scale, stability of these substances in poultry feed and gastrointestinal tract, specificity of these antibodies against field pathogens (as pathogens constantly evolve) are a few of these obstacles. The current trend in the industry is to move from treatment to prevention. Disease prevention is a complicated process with multiple determinants, and alternatives to antibiotics could be part of this. Solid biosecurity measures will remain as a very important part of disease prevention/control strategies.
Do you think that egg yolk antibodies have any potential as an alternative to antibiotics? Do you see any possibility for these compounds to become commercially available in different parts of the world? Let's discuss our opinions here.

Other Research


  • no-profile-image


    how can it be applied to chickens ? & when ?

    is it given as liquid or as dry powder???

    is it given at day old??

  • no-profile-image


    It is very unique soution, but at what stage of disease preclinical, clinical and postclinical.

  • no-profile-image

    Dr Stephen Adejoro

    Iam excited at this research progress which I believe will provide future solutions to the problem of bacteria diseases resistance development in future.
    I equally believe that future solution to the chemotherapy of HIV and AIDS will come with this scientific innovation.
    Rural communities in Nigeria and Africa had long been managing typhoid infection in Humans with yolk of eggs from scavanging local chickens
    It is their believe that scavanging local chicks store antibodies of foreing antigens in their yolk for onward passage to their offsprng vertically
    If egg yolk antibodies had worked in the treatment of IBD ,an immunosuppressive disease of poultry, similar to AIDS ,THEN it is most likely that the ultimate solution to the final cure of AIDS will come from poultry.

  • no-profile-image

    Mahdi Ebrahimi

    i think this idea is practicable and very good for organic poultry production.but need more research. it can reduce the amount of antibiotic usage on poultry industry and improve human and poultry health.

  • no-profile-image

    muzamil ahmd khan

    I'm from pakistan.This is a big step towards new research. With this new research people of the world are going to have a better way of living

  • no-profile-image

    karen taylor

    IF the chickens were raised in a healthy enviroment with room to move about, sun, fresh air and allowed to eat grass and other more natural foods, antibiotics that kill life would not be necessray. My birds recieve no 'medicines' other then some probiotics in teh form of fresh yogurt made with raw cow's milk from cows that live on pasture and are outside in the sun and grass.

  • no-profile-image

    Julio L Pimentel

    Egg yolk antibodies can be more useful is the the antigen requiered to inhibit is present in the gastrointestinal tract of the animals. There has been some work that if the antibody is fed a few hours after hatch it can be absorbed by the chicken and have a systemic effect. In the case of mammals, the GI tract is open so big molecules can be absorbed (antibodies)early at birth. We have shown that feeding antibodies against urease can improve animal performance. Others have shown similar effects with antibodies against other enzymes and hormones.

  • no-profile-image

    Sabah Sena - Albania

    This is a great news, which I do believe that needs some further research to definitely prove the idea. On the other side the authorities have to be a little more strict towards the limitation, if not banning, the use of antimicrobials, unless it will be considered vitally important. Again, congratulations for the good news and success in the future/further research work.

  • no-profile-image

    Jean Fontaine

    Egg antibodies are a good approach, if you look for a solution to make them resistant to pelleting of feed, we have succeeded to protect egg antibodies in order to have them heat resistant to pelleting condition for the industrial uses in animal production.

  • no-profile-image


    Good start and needs an extensive research work.
    Hope this concept will take a complete shape within few years. New era begins to put a big fullstop for indescriminate use of antibiotics.

  • no-profile-image

    Bolarinwa Ganiyu

    This would be a very best solution to animal health.Would the strain(s)0f these pathogens be same considering the natural way of producing the subtances.

  • no-profile-image

    Dr KB Bohara/Kathmandu Nepal,27/03/07

    I think it seems as a exciting and a unique solution over a complex poultry and human health problem,But a lot really needed to prove before expect a readymade solution from it.I believe that a high standard of research should be focused on:
    Cost and production technologies
    sfecificity of these antibodies against field pathogen
    Stability of these substances in feed,water and GItract.If we can address thse constraints I am sure we would be able to reduce pains and sufferings from human and animal societies

  • no-profile-image

    Danqua Kwadwo Joseph,UDS-TAMALE,GHANA

    It is a great news for the world and care must be taken so that it will not be handle with care.

  • no-profile-image


    i have ever heard about pronutrients,Neutraceuticals as an alternative for antibiotics this is again good one to reduce harmful effects of antibiotics.But how it should be processed prior to administration is req.

  • no-profile-image

    Dr.fariborz sharifian

    I think it seems therapeutic agant to viral disease and to reduce harmfuleffect of these but probiotics are maybe mor effective in bacteria colonization of GI.

  • no-profile-image


    As modern poultry production takes a rapid take off,there are several human health hazard issues arise in the global market.This is a right time to awake ourself to provide world a healty animal food before it reflects to become a great tragedy

  • no-profile-image

    Edgar Canahui M.Sc.Anim Prod. Reading Univ.

    I have a question to Dr.Mojtaba. Can someone take the liquid phase of egg yolk, without lipidic part. Then, to make an injectable in an emulsion preparation in order to treat IBD or Newcastle Disease outbreck. The IgY antibodies of egg yolk against newcastle will activated defense mechanism of bird.
    Another question is if antibodies have to have been purified in order to make injectable

  • no-profile-image


    Dear All,
    Its very surprising to note that everyone started talking about alternate to antibiotics rather looking at proper diagnosis, correct dose, frequency, avoiding misuse, All Biosecurity measures like Feed Mycotoxins, Disinfection / sanitation, avoiding multiage groups...etc. It will be of limited value to even think about feeding yolk antibodies which by any standards would be cost prohibitive.
    These ideas need extensive research, validation for cost effectiveness.

  • Getahun WOLDEYES

    The most article are more essential for this sector

Load more comments (15)

Or register to be able to comment.