OBJECTIVE To determine effects of in ovo administration of a probiotic on development of the intestinal microbiota of 2 genetic lineages (modern and heritage) of chickens.
SAMPLE 10 newly hatched chicks and 40 fertile eggs to determine intestinal microbiota at hatch, 900 fertile eggs to determine effects of probiotic on hatchability, and 1,560 chicks from treated or control eggs.
PROCEDURES A probiotic competitive-exclusion product derived from adult microbiota was administered in ovo to fertile eggs of both genetic lineages. Cecal contents and tissues were collected from embryos, newly hatched chicks, and chicks. A PCR assay was used to detect bacteria present within the cecum of newly hatched chicks. Fluorescence in situ hybridization and vitality staining were used to detect viable bacteria within intestines of embryos. The intestinal microbiota was assessed by use of 16S pyrosequencing.
RESULTS Microscopic evaluation of embryonic cecal contents and tissues subjected to differential staining techniques revealed viable bacteria in low numbers. Development of the intestinal microbiota of broiler chicks of both genetic lineages was enhanced by in ovo administration of adult microbiota. Although the treatment increased diversity and affected composition of the microbiota of chicks, most bacterial species present in the probiotic were transient colonizers. However, the treatment decreased the abundance of undesirable bacterial species within heritage lineage chicks.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE In ovo inoculation of a probiotic competitive-exclusion product derived from adult microbiota may be a viable method of managing development of the microbiota and reducing the prevalence of pathogenic bacteria in chickens.