Poultry microbiota research in the spotlight during the 23rd European Symposium on Poultry Nutrition
Our poultry experts gathered in Rimini, Italy, to share state-of-the-art knowledge with worldwide experts in poultry nutrition at the 23rd European Symposium on Poultry Nutrition (ESPN). This was an opportunity to share two new studies focusing on poultry nutrition and microbiota modulation developed using high throughput sequencing techniques. In addition, the team introduced a new practical method to assess pullet quality on-farm.
Assessing and improving pullet quality
It has been reported that body weight measurement is not sufficient to evaluate pullet quality. Muscle development and protein retention are also important criteria for pullet quality and future laying performance. This is why our team developed an original, on-farm indicator to evaluate pullet quality. This new method is based on the measurement of the pectoralis muscle (breast muscle) thickness using handheld ultrasonography (Soler et al., 2023).
The study shared at ESPN reported the validation of this method in a rearing environment (30,000 pullets). The trial also validated the effect on pullet performance of probiotic supplementation (Pediococcus acidilactici CNCM I-4622; BACTOCELL).
The bacteria supplementation led to improved and efficient growth performance and thicker pectoralis muscles. By improving feed digestibility and lowering inflammation, BACTOCELL appears to contribute to better protein retention from the feed and more efficient protein deposits in the muscle. The probiotic was considered a promising nutritional strategy to secure laying hen performance.
Deep diving into poultry microbiota
Two other studies used metagenomic techniques to assess the effects of microbiota modulation on poultry using either a probiotic (P. acidilactici CNCM 4622; BACTOCELL) or the natural microbiota isolated from healthy poultry (AVIGUARD) (Achard et al. 2023).
In the first study, the probiotic was supplemented to laying hens during the late phase of the production cycle with confirmed benefits on laying performance. The probiotic favored a more diverse gut microbiota, which is likely to be more resilient. The modulation of the microbiota profile may also help improve gut health and performance.
In pullet rearing, a trial conducted with AVIGUARD confirmed the ability of the natural microbiota to enhance intestinal development and immune maturation in pullets. The microbiota study showed a reduction of opportunistic pathogenic bacteria in the pullet gut (Enterobacteriaceae and Enterococcus sp.). AVIGUARD favored faster maturation of the gut microbiota and of the immune system, as shown in the development of the bursa of Fabricius. As a result, pullet robustness and resilience to invading pathogens is enhanced at a time when the early colonization by opportunistic pathogenic bacteria represents a major threat to the health of a flock.
Soler S., Chevaux E., Ligabue M., Sacy A. On farm report of Pediococcus acidilactici CNCM 4622 supplementation in pullets rearing production and assessment of new criteria for the evaluation of pullet’s quality. Poster. 23rd European Symposium on Poultry Nutrition – June 2023, Rimini, Italy.
Achard C., Sacy A., Barbé F., Chevaux E., Ligabue M., Castex M. Microbiota modulation with Pediococcus acidilactici CNCM I-4622 supplementation in laying hens during the late phase of the production cycle. Poster. 23rd European Symposium on Poultry Nutrition – June 2023, Rimini, Italy.
Achard C., Chevaux E., Castex M., Ligabue M., Sacy A. Competitive exclusion to secure pullets’ production: impact on microbiota establishment, relative abundance of Enterobacteriaceae and Enterococcus sp. in a large field trial. Poster. 23rd European Symposium on Poultry Nutrition – June 2023, Rimini, Italy.