Nutrition of the Developing Embryo and Hatchling

By E. T. Moran, Jr. Department of Poultry Science, Auburn University. Published in Poultry Science, Volume 86, Issue 5, May 2007 edition.
calendar icon 21 May 2007
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Nutrient needs central to satisfactory egg incubation well-being undergo several major changes from fertilization until the reliance of the chick on feed. Glucose is central, with the initiation of incubation until the chorioallantois accesses O2 to use for fatty acid oxidation.

Nutrient recovery from albumen and yolk is largely commensurate with body assembly through to completion of the embryo by 14 d.

Remaining albumen mixes with the amniotic fluid and is orally consumed until initiation of emergence.

A portion of the albumen is absorbed by the small intestine to expand body glycogen reserves.

The residual not absorbed contains digestive enzyme contributions and enters the yolk sac through its stalk at the jejunum and ileum.

Interaction of the albumen-amnion digestive enzyme mixture with yolk sac contents leads to diverse alterations that influence subsequent use of lipids.

Rapid removal of very low-density lipoprotein ensues, until pipping with triglycerides, expanding body fat depots while cholesterol deposits in the liver. A concurrent translocation of Ca from shell mineralizes the skeletal system while also crossing yolk sac villi for deposition on phosvitin-based granules accruing in its lumen.

Loss of chorioallantois with pipping and the start of pulmonary respiration predispose a dependence on glycolysis to support emergence. Small intestinal villi progressively reorient their enterocytes from macromolecule transfer to competence at digestion and absorption after hatching.

Mobilization of body fat complements contributions from the yolk sac to provide fatty acids for generating energy, heat, and water while also combining with hepatic cholesterol for membrane expansion and continued development.

Calcified granules evacuate the yolk sac to further skeletal mineralization in the absence of shell contributions.

Egg mass, its interior quality, and turning during early incubation directly influence the ability of the embryo to access nutrients and provide resources to support emergence and the transition of the chick to self-sufficiency.

May 2007

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