2018 - 2022

Perinatal feeding of epidermal growth factor to enhance development and maintenance of a functional intestinal tract for improved growth and efficiency in poultry

Principal Investigator: Elijah Kiarie, University of Guelph
Status: In progress


The overall objective of this research is to evaluate the ability of epidermal growth factor (EGF) to stimulate gastrointestinal development of broilers pre-hatch and its subsequent effects on growth performance, gastrointestinal development, resiliency to pathogen enteric challenge and nutrient utilization in the context of an antibiotic-free feeding program.  Specific objectives described in the original workplan were to:
  1. Evaluate the effects of in-ovo application of EGF in the amniotic fluid of incubated fertile broiler eggs on the indices of gastrointestinal tract development, and
  2. Evaluate growth performance, nutrient digestibility and enteric pathogen responses of broiler chickens treated with EGF during incubation.


They have developed an EGF prototype from a microbial production system at the University of Guelph. This molecule has been shown to improve growth performance in newly weaned piglets linked to enhanced gastrointestinal development (Cheung et al., 2009, Am J Clin Nutr 89: 871-879; Kang et al., 2010; Bedford et al., 2012, J Anim Sci 90 Suppl 4: 4-6.; Bedford et al., 2015, Gastroenterology 108: 564-580.). The pilot study using coccidiosis challenge model showed that, this EGF prototype reduced the negative effects of coccidiosis by improving indices of gut function (digestive enzymes, nutrients transporters and gut barrier) (E. Kim H. Leung, N. Akhtar, J. Li, J. Barta, Y. Wang, C. Yang, and E. Kiarie. 2017. Poult. Sci. 96: 3676-3686). The proposed research will extend these preliminary findings by thoroughly assessing (as Part of Emily Kim Thesis research) the ability of EGF to transition the chicks from late embryonic stage to hatching and how this relates to growth performance and indicators of intestinal health and function post-hatch. This information will be critical for correct dose and strategy for applying EGF for antibiotic free poultry production.


$121,637 (CPRC/AAFC $91,637*, NSERC $30,000)

*This research is part of the 2018-2023 Poultry Science Cluster which is supported by AAFC as part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

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