The nutritional demand of embryos and early aged chicks has changed over decades. Early nutrition programming is one of the latest and successful methods to feed embryos and recently hatched chicks to prepare chickens with a healthy gut, favourable microbiota, improved immunity, and overall improved growth performance.
Currently used materials to feed as early nutrition includes probiotics, prebiotics, exogenous enzymes, amino acids, hormones, vaccines, and drugs. Early feeding to chicks with these nutrients and supplements has been found to improve total digestive tract development, increase growth rate and feed efficiency, reduce post-hatch mortality and morbidity, promote growth of beneficial gut microbiota, improve the immune system and the response to enteric antigens, reduce incidence of developmental skeletal disorders, and increase in muscle development and breast meat yield. Understanding the embryonic development and nutrient metabolism process more precisely, will lead to more knowledge about how early nutrition affects specific genes responsible for performance, intestinal health, and overall health-related traits in poultry.
This abstract is taken from the research ‘Early nutrition programming (In ovo and post-hatch feeding) as a strategy to modulate gut health of poultry’ published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science.
Photo: Ruud Ploeg