Yolk sac infections in broiler chicks: studies on Escherichia coli, chick acquired immunity, and barn microbiology

  • Author / Creator
    Ulmer Franco, Ana M
  • The avian yolk sac is a well vascularised membrane that surrounds the yolk of an embryonated egg and functions as a placenta-like structure transferring yolk nutrients including maternal antibodies, to the embryo. The absorption of the yolk sac content during the first days post-hatching is essential for chick growth and development. However, the infection of the yolk sac is the main cause of chick mortality accounting for large economic losses to the poultry industry. The overall goal of this thesis was to study the epidemiological triad of yolk sac infections: the pathogen: Escherichia coli, the susceptible host: the chick, and the environment: the chicken barn. In the first experiment a strain of avian pathogenic E. coli was transformed with a plasmid carrying a green fluorescent protein. Using fluorescence microscopy it was observed that E. coli entered the yolk sac via the chick navel. In the second experiment, the effects of breeder flock age on the total IgY content of egg yolk and yolk sac was determined. It was concluded that IgY increased with breeder flock age in eggs and yolk sacs. The consequences of these results on chick health are unknown. In the third experiment, the effects of cleaning and disinfection methods of the chicken barn on microbial counts were analyzed in barn swabs and in pooled organ and yolk sac samples. It was surprising to observe that 4 days after placing chicks in the barn, samples of chicks from “cleaner” pens had more bacteria than those of chicks from “dirtier” pens. In the fourth experiment, all E. coli isolated from barn and chick samples from the previous experiment were typified using the RAPD method. It was determined that “cleaner” pens had greater E. coli variability than “dirtier” pens. Also, more E. coli types were shared between chicks and the environment in “cleaner” pens suggesting that chicks that are placed in very clean environments acquired more environmental E. coli than chicks placed in environments with greater bacterial loads. The long term consequences of environmental sanitation on chick growth and development, disease susceptibility, and broiler performance should be studied.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2011
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Fasenko, Gaylene (Animal and Range Sciences, New Mexico State University, las Cruces, NM)
    • Guan, Leluo (Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science)
    • Magor, Katharine (Biological Sciences)
    • Wu, Jianping (Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science)
    • Allan, Brenda J. (Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization, Saskatoon, SK)