New research by Chr. Hansen and Mississippi State University (MSU) shows that in ovo injection of GalliPro® Hatch — a new probiotic formulation for poultry — can help chicks get a healthier start in life, without impairing hatchability.
GalliPro® Hatch is the newest addition to Chr. Hansen’s product portfolio and the company’s first product formulated for in ovo injection. Based on a unique strain of Enterococcus faecium (M74), GalliPro® Hatch has been shown to move rapidly from the injection site to colonize the chick’s developing gut, potentially improving intestinal health and boosting post-hatch performance.
“Good health starts in the gut, and gut health starts with a well-balanced intestinal microbiome,” said John Dickerson, poultry business manager for Chr. Hansen. “New studies show that the unique probiotic strain in GalliPro® Hatch can safely and effectively be injected in ovo — establishing beneficial microbial populations in the gut before hatch — so chicks can get a helpful head start on intestinal health.”
Positive effect on hatchability, viability
Speaking at a forum at the 2017 International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE), Aaron, Kiess, PhD — a poultry science professor at MSU — presented study data demonstrating the safety and efficacy of GalliPro® Hatch, as well as its compatibility with simultaneous Marek’s disease vaccination.
The study was conducted at MSU in 3,906 fertile hatching eggs from a 55-week-old broiler breeder flock. On Day 18, one group of eggs was injected with a commercial Marek’s disease vaccine and another was injected with both the vaccine and GalliPro® Hatch. The injections were given with commercial in ovo technology according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Compared to the vaccine group, the vaccine + GalliPro® Hatch group had fewer late-dead mortalities before hatch and lower mortality 0 to 7 days post-hatch. Chicks that received GalliPro® Hatch also had numerically higher average weights at hatch than those that received the vaccine alone.
Results indicate that GalliPro® Hatch is not harmful to chicks and may improve post-hatch performance.
“Unlike other probiotic strains, which can be harmful when applied in ovo, the E. faecium strain in GalliPro® Hatch has been shown to be safe for in ovo injection and embryonic development,” Kiess explained.
“By promoting intestinal integrity and function, the E. faecium strain in GalliPro® Hatch should help improve nutrient uptake while limiting pathogen growth. The trend toward lower mortalities and higher weights observed in the E. faecium group is consistent with these benefits. Improved livability in the first week of life sets chicks up for improved economic results at market.”
Early microbial colonization
The ability to administer a probiotic in ovo has significant benefits, explained Herb Kling, PhD, a poultry consultant for Chr. Hansen.
According to Kling, the perinatal period — encompassing the last four days before hatch and the first four days after — is the most critical time for the development and survival of commercial chickens. During this time, physiological and metabolic transitions occur that determine the expression of the bird’s genetic potential, and ultimately, its economic performance.
“The sooner birds establish beneficial microflora in their guts, the better they can avoid damaging and costly intestinal imbalances throughout their lives,” Kling said.
In chickens, microbial colonization of the gut is generally considered to begin after hatch. However, small numbers of live bacteria can be found in chick intestines before hatch, suggesting it is possible to start establishing beneficial gut microflora in ovo. Reinforcing these findings, a new study by Chr. Hansen confirmed the presence of the E. faecium strain in GalliPro® Hatch in the gastrointestinal tracts of young chicks that received the probiotic via in ovo injection.
“The high growth rate of chickens and their relatively short production cycle makes early colonization of the gut especially important,” Kling emphasized. “A well-balanced and diverse gut microbiome not only improves the availability and absorption of nutrients, but also helps keep harmful pathogens in check — many of which chicks are exposed to at the hatchery, even before they begin feeding.”
Modes of action
Kling explained that the E. faecium strain in GalliPro® Hatch helps keep chickens healthy and high-performing through multiple proven modes of action (see appendix, Figure 1):
- Pathogen inhibition. In challenge studies, in ovo inoculation with E. faecium resulted in a significant reduction in the number of Salmonella enteritidis-positive chicks.  Oral administration of E. faecium from the first day of life has also been found to reduce certain pathogens, such as E. coli and Clostridium perfringens. ,
- Immune stimulation. E. faecium supplementation has been shown to promote the development of immune organs and increase total antioxidant status. High antioxidant status is related to the enhancement of non-specific immune defense mechanisms, which provide the first line of defense against foreign challenges.
- Enhancement of gut morphology. Oral and in ovo administration of E. faecium have been shown to increase the length of intestinal villi and decrease the depth of crypts. Increased villus length suggests intestinal greater surface area with increased nutrient absorptive capacity. The intestinal crypt is where enterocytes (cells of the intestinal lining) proliferate to replace cells lost at the villus tip due to normal sloughing or inflammation from pathogens. Longer villi and shallower crypts are related to decreased cell replacement, longer enterocyte lifespan, and improved performance (see appendix, Figure 2).
- Increased mineral and nutrient absorption. When added to water, E. faecium has been found to increase calcium absorption. In ovo probiotic inoculation has been associated with better use of egg nutrients and higher post-hatch growth.
 Oliveira et al, 2014. In ovo inoculation of chicken embryos with probiotic bacteria and its effect on posthatch Salmonella susceptibility. Poult Sci 2014 Apr;93(4):818-29.
 Blanch et al, 2017. “Confirmation of the presence of Enterococcus faecium M74 in the gastrointestinal tract of young chicks from eggs inoculated with GalliPro® Hatch.” 2017 International Poultry Scientific Forum abstract booklet, p. 47.
 Oliveira et al, 2014.
 Cao et al, 2013. Effects of a probiotic, Enterococcus faecium, on growth performance, intestinal morphology, immune response, and cecal microflora in broiler chickens challenged with Escherichia coli K88. 2013 Poultry Science 92: 2949-2955.
 Saelim et al, 2012. Probiotic properties of Enterococcus faecium CE5-1 producing a bacteriocin-like substance and its antagonistic effect against antibiotic-resistant enterococci in vitro. Czech J. Anim. Sci., 57 (11): 529-539.
 Luo et al, 2013. “Proteome changes in the intestinal mucosa of broiler activated by probiotic Enterococcus faecium.” Journal of Proteomics 91: 226-241.
 Capcarova et al, 2010. Effect of lactobacillus fermentum and Enterococus faecium strains on intestinal milieu, antioxidant status and body weight of broiler chickens. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr. 94:215–224. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2010.01010.
 Cao et al, 2013; Luo et al, 2013.