Effects of in ovo feeding of carbohydrates and β-hydroxy-β- methylbutyrate on the development of chicken intestine

E. Tako, P. R. Ferket, Z. Uni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


Early development of the digestive tract is crucial for achieving maximal growth and development of chickens. Because the late-term embryo naturally consumes the amniotic fluids, insertion of a nutrient solution into the embryonic amniotic fluid [in ovo (IO) feeding] may enhance development. This study examined the effect of IO feeding on d 17.5 of incubation of carbohydrates (CHO) and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB) on small intestinal development of chickens during the pre and posthatch periods. Results shows that 48 h post-IO feeding procedure all IO feeding treatments exhibited increased villus width and surface area compared with the control group. At d 3 posthatch the surface area of an average villi was increased by 45% for the HMB IO group and by 33% for the CHO and CHO+HMB IO groups compared with controls (noninjected fertile eggs). The activity of jejunal sucrase-isomaltase (SI) was higher (P < 0.05) 48 h after IO feeding in all the IO fed embryos, whereas at day of hatch and at d 3 the CHO+HMB IO group had the highest maltase activity (P < 0.05), which was approximately 50% greater than control embryos. These observations indicated that small intestines of IO fed hatchlings were functionally at a similar stage of development as a conventionally fed 2-d-old chick. Body weight of all IO fed hatchlings was greater than controls, and these differences (P < 0.05) were sustained until the end of the experiment (10 d). At d 10 chicks that were IO fed with CHO had BW that were 2.2% higher, whereas HMB and CHO+HMB IO fed chicks showed 5 to 6.2% BW increase, respectively, compared with controls. The current study shows that the administration of exogenous nutrients into the amnion enhanced intestinal development by increasing the size of the villi and by increasing the intestinal capacity to digest disaccharides. This advantage probably leads to higher BW in IO fed chicks.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2023-2028
Number of pages6
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Chicken
  • In ovo feeding
  • Small intestine
  • Sucrase-isomaltase


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