NCSU is seeking an industry partner to commercialize an in ovo feeding mechanism to enhance neonatal development of poultry. US and international patents are pending.
There is a limited amount of nutrients in the egg to support the development and viability of late-term embryos and newly hatched chicks. Upon emergence from the egg, the hatchling must endure a negative nutritional status until it's enteric system has developed the capacity to digest an external diet and absorb nutrients.
Researchers at North Carolina State University, in collaboration with the Hebrew University, have developed a method of providing nutrients and other natural compounds to a late-term embryo to modulate enteric development to improve the hatchling's nutritional status during the transition from embryonic nutrition to diet digestive competence. This invention involves the in ovo administration of a feeding solution/ suspension into the amnion of the embryo. The researchers have demonstrated that this in ovo feeding improves the hatchling's nutritional status during late-term embryonic development and the post-hatch neonatal period by initiating the digestion of external food earlier than conventionally possible. By providing critical nutrients and enteric modulators in ovo, this technology accelerates the functional development of the intestine and synergistically improves resistance to incubation distress, the hatching rate, hatchling weight and energy status, post-hatch growth, dietary nutrient utilization, and welfare.
For the commercial poultry industry, this technology can be integrated with in ovo vaccinations and has the potential to result in increased profits due to a reduction in hatching cost per bird, time to market size (increased weight gain), and medication costs, and an increase in feed conversion efficiency, survivability, and meat yield.
- Enhanced enteric development of the hatchling and improved health of hatchlings due to improved resistance to enteric and metabolic disease, improved enteric antigen response and gut associated immunity, and reduced early mortality and morbidity.
- Increased hatchability rate and improved early growth performance (body weight gain and feed nutrient utilization efficiency) by accelerating the development of the digestive, muscular, skeletal, circulatory, respiratory, and immune systems and promoting appetite.
- Improved resistance to stress associated with the hatching, handling, and transport to placement.
- Increased profits of commercial poultry meat production by reducing hatching cost per bird, time to market size, medication costs, and mortality and morbidity rates, and increasing feed conversion efficiency and meat yields.
About the Inventors
Dr. Peter Ferket is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Poultry Science Department at North Carolina State University. His research interests include applied nutrition research of commercial meat-type poultry and utilization of agricultural co-products as feed ingredients for poultry, with a focus on nutritional factors that affect immune function, skeletal development, growth characteristics and meat quality.
Dr. Zehava Uni is an Adjunct Professor in the Poultry Science Department at North Carolina State University and an Associate Professor in the Animal Science Department at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research interests include the development and function of the gastrointestinal tract, cellular processes, gene expression and activity of brush border enzymes and transporters in the small intestine, evaluating the effect of probiotics, prebiotics and antibiotics on small intestine functionality and developing in ovo feeding techniques.