Poultry Science, Volume 96, Issue 11, 1 November 2017, Pages 3901–3911

2017 | by R. Olsen, E. Kudirkiene, I. Thøfner, S. Pors, P. Karlskov-Mortensen, L. Li, S. Papasolomontos, C. Angastiniotou, J. Christensen | Print Article


Disinfection of hatching eggs is essential to ensure high quality production of broilers. Different protocols are followed in different hatcheries; however, only limited scientific evidence on how the disinfection procedures impact the microbiome is available. The aim of the present study was to characterize the microbiome and aerobic bacterial load of hatching eggs before disinfection and during the subsequent disinfection steps. The study included a group of visibly clean and a group of visibly dirty eggs. For dirty eggs, an initial wash in chlorine was performed, hereafter all eggs were submitted to two times fumigation and finally spray disinfection. The eggshell microbiome was characterized by sequencing of the total amount of 16S rRNA extracted from each sample, consisting of shell surface swabs of five eggs from the same group. In addition, the number of colony forming units (cfu) under aerobic conditions was established for each disinfection step. The disinfection procedure reduced the bacterial load from more than 104 cfu (initially visibly clean eggs) and 105 cfu (initially visibly dirty eggs) to less than 10 cfu per sample after disinfection for both groups of eggs. The microbiome of both initially visibly clean and initially visibly dirty eggs had the highest abundances of the phyla Firmicutes, Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes. Within the phyla Firmicutes the relative abundances of Clostridiales decreased while Lactobacillus increased from before to after final disinfection. In conclusion, the investigated disinfection procedure is effective in reducing the bacterial load, and by adding a chlorine wash for initially visibly dirty eggs, the microbiome of initially visibly clean and initially visibly dirty eggs had a highly similar microflora after the final disinfection step.

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