2013 - 2017

Non-antibiotic control of bacterial infection

Principal Investigator: Mohammed Arshud Dar, University of Saskatchewan
Co-investigator: Brenda Allan, University of Saskatchewan; Hugh Townsend, University of Saskatchewan
Status: Completed


To develop an non-antibiotics based in ovo effective, safe and economical strategy to:
  1. prevent bacterial infections causing early chick mortalities and yolk sac infection (YSI)
  2. improve innate resistance to diverse pathogens
  3. enhance responsiveness to vaccines
  4. achieve a higher level of production


Increased susceptibility to infectious diseases in first week of post hatch life of chickens is attributed to inefficient host defence mechanism.  The use of antibiotics in poultry was compensating this deficiency to some extent.  However, based on increased antibiotic resistance, emergence of superbugs and public health implications arising from use of antibiotics in animal industry, the development of appropriate non-antibiotics based alternatives for the control of bacterial and viral infections in poultry is urgently needed. Yolk sac infection (YSI) has been reported as the most frequent cause of Early Chick Mortality (ECM).  The level of ECM is one of the crucial factors that determines the quality of chicken production and the economic turn out from a poultry production unit.  For YSI, antibiotics treatment at farm level is not recommended and the problem is managed through heavy culling. Enhanced level of innate immunity in young chicks is associated with reduced initial mortalities, improved resistance to diverse pathogens, increased  responsiveness to vaccines and higher levels of production.  The use of immune stimulants in poultry and other animal species have antimicrobial and growth promoting activities comparable to antibiotics.  Thus, the use of innate immune stimulants offers a generic approach for growth promotion and disease protection without use of antibiotics in young chicks. The identification and characterization of non-antibiotics based antimicrobials alternatives including, immune stimulants and vaccines against pathogens associated with YSI is an immediate requirement of poultry industry. The goal of this study is to identify one or more in ovo effective, safe and economical non-antibiotics for the prevention of YSI in broilers.  It is expected that besides reduction in mortalities due to YSI, the strengthening of immune potential of chicks through use of these immune stimulants will significantly improve generalized disease resistance, growth rates, and vaccine responses in young chicks.


$170,800 (AAFC/CPRC $110,800*, Saskatchewan Chicken Industry Development Fund $60,000)


*This research was part of the Poultry Science Cluster 2 which was supported by AAFC as part of Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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