Poultry International - July 2018 - 26
26 ❙ PoultryInternational
Is the next frontier in poultry
health the microbiome?
Research into the microbiome could lead to a variety of discoveries
boosting chicken health and productivity.
As poultry producers shift to "noantibiotics-ever" production systems,
we need new tools to address the
variety of challenges that come
with the shift, and a
new area of science is
emerging that is offering
a great deal of promise: the
Research in human medicine
is leading the way as we start to understand
how the microbiome affects everything from
intestinal health to obesity and mental disorDr. Scott Carter
ders, and scientists are starting to bring this
innovative thinking to poultry health as well.
While still in the very early stages of discovery,
advances in the microbiome have the potential to bring
great benefit to poultry producers.
The microbiome, discovery of a new organ
We are surrounded by bacteria. They live in our
noses, in our intestinal tracts and on our skin, and
chickens are no different. We call this collection of
bacteria the microbiome, and it plays such an important role that scientists have begun to define it has a
Chickens, it turns out, are more bacteria than they
are bird. Science has shown us that this microbiome
has hundreds of times more cells and genes than the
chicken itself, and we are just starting to understand
what an important role this microbiome "organ" plays
in poultry health and performance.
It is hoped that manipulation
of the poultry microbiome
may act as an alternative to
improve management of
polymicrobial diseases and better
control pathogens in the food
chain. | Shutterstock, WhiteDragon
Fecal transplants for chickens?
In human medicine, we have seen important advancements in the concept of fecal transplantation for
drug-resistant Clostridia infections that have led to
development of therapeutic drugs currently in clinical
trials. Following these efforts, poultry researchers have
begun to innovate in this field as well.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of
Agriculture and elsewhere have characterized the
chicken gastrointestinal microbiome and speculate
that advances in this area can lead to strategies that
improve gut health through microbiome manipulation
as an alternative to subtherapeutic antibiotics, improve
management of poly-microbial poultry diseases, and
better control of human pathogens in the food chain.
Other researchers are investigating whether the
transfer of the microbiome of high-feed-efficiency
poultry to low-feed-efficiency poultry can result in a
new way of improving overall poultry performance.
A third example is research investigating the effect
of transferring the microbiome from hens to day-of
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ July 2018