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

Principal Investigator

Elijah Kiarie, University of Guelph

Year the work was done


Overall objective

  • Evaluate the ability of epidermal growth factor (EGF) to stimulate gastrointestinal development of broilers pre-hatch and its subsequent effects of growth performance, gastrointestinal development, resiliency to enteric pathogen challenge and nutrient utilization in the context of an antibiotic-free feeding program.

Specific objectives

  • 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.
  • Evaluate growth performance, nutrient digestibility and enteric pathogen responses of broiler chickens treated with EGF during incubation.


  • The birds not fed additives had little protection against deleterious effects of Eimeria. The highest dose of EGF had a comparable response to EGF broth suggesting that EGF on its own had effects too.
  • The current data indicated that EGF at higher dose ≥320µg/kg BW can support growth performance and lymphoid organs irrespective of the presence of enteric pathogens. This was commensurate to antibiotic and coccidiostat additives indicating EGF can be effective alternative to these additives.
  • The effects of EGF production broth indicated that the yeast used to produce EGF had metabolites that could exert positive effects perhaps suggesting the effective application should be consider using crude biomass.


  • EGF has potential of being effective alternative to anti-microbial growth promoters in poultry production. Improving intestinal health and function is critical for improved poultry performance, welfare, and reduction in antimicrobial use. For commercial application of EGF in poultry production to be feasible, further research and development in terms of innovating production, product formulation, and regulatory registration will be required.

This research applies to

Breeders, Broilers, Layers, Turkeys

This research was supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canadian Poultry Research Council, and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.