Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Important metabolic pathways in poultry embryos prior to hatch

  • J.E. DE OLIVEIRA (a1), Z. UNI (a2) and P.R. FERKET (a1)

Growth performance and meat yield of commercial broilers and turkeys has improved linearly each year during the past four decades (Havenstein et al., 2003b; Havenstein et al., 2003a; Havenstein et al., 2007), and this trend is likely to continue in the future as new technologies in genetics, biotechnology and developmental biology are adopted by the poultry industry. As the time it takes meat birds to achieve market size decreases, the period of embryonic development becomes a greater proportion of a bird's productive life. Therefore, incubation and embryonic development towards hatch is of greater relative importance to the successful rearing of meat poultry than ever before (Hulet 2007; Foye et al., 2007b). Consequently, anything that supports or limits growth and development during the incubation period will have a marked effect on overall growth performance and health of modern strains of meat poultry. Many poultry researchers now realize that future gains in genetic and production potential of poultry will come from advancements made during the incubation period and embryogenesis (Elibol et al., 2002; Peebles et al., 2005; Christensen et al., 2007; Collin et al., 2007; Leksrisompong et al., 2007). The urgent need to explore and understand the biology of incubation has been emphasised by several symposia: two held at the annual conference of the U.S. Poultry Science Society (July 2006-Edmonton, Alberta, Canada “Managing the embryo for performance”, and July 2007-San Antonio, TX Informal Nutrition Meeting “The impact of imprinting on biological and economical performance in animals”), and one held by the European Federation of World Poultry Science Society (October 2007-Berlin, Germany “Fundamental physiology and perinatal development in poultry), which were specifically devoted to demonstrating the importance of the embryonic period on poultry performance. This review will summarise the metabolic events and pathways in four of the most active tissues of embryos during the period just prior to hatch, and the hormonal control that coordinates the marked changes as the embryo prepares for its post-hatch life.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

T.J. APPLEGATE , D.M. KARCHER and M.S. LILBURN (2005) Comparative development of the small intestine in the turkey poult and Pekin duckling. Poultry Science 84: 426-431.

W.L. BAKHUIS (1974) Observations on hatching movements in the chick (Gallus domesticus). Journal of Comparative Physiology and Psychology 87: 997-1003.

V.L. CHRISTENSEN , H.V. BIELLIER and J.F. FORWARD (1982) Physiology of turkey embryos during pipping and hatching III. Thyroid function. Poultry Science 61: 367-374.

V.L. CHRISTENSEN , W.E. DONALDSON and J.P. MCMURTRY (1996) Physiological differences in late embryos from turkey breeders at different ages. Poultry Science 75: 172-178.

V.L. CHRISTENSEN , W.E. DONALDSON and K.E. NESTOR (1999) Length of the plateau and pipping stages of incubation affects the physiology and survival of turkeys. British Poultry Science 40: 297-303.

V.L. CHRISTENSEN , M.J. WINELAND , G.M. FASENKO and W.E. DONALDSON (2001) Egg storage effects on plasma glucose and supply and demand tissue glycogen concentrations of broiler embryos. Poultry Science 80: 1729-1735.

V.L. CHRISTENSEN , J.L. GRIMES , M.J. WINELAND and G.S. DAVIS (2003a) Accelerating embryonic growth during incubation following prolonged egg storage. 2. Embryonic growth and metabolism. Poultry Science 82: 1869-1878.

V.L. CHRISTENSEN , D.T. ORT , K.E. NESTOR , S.G. VELLEMAN and G.B. HAVENSTEIN (2007) Genetic control of neonatal growth and intestinal maturation in turkeys. Poultry Science 86: 476-487.

A. COLLIN , C. BERRI , S. TESSERAUD , F.E. RODON , S. SKIBA-CASSY , S. CROCHET , M.J. DUCLOS , N. RIDEAU , K. TONA , J. BUYSE , V. BRUGGEMAN , E. DECUYPERE , M. PICARD and S. YAHAV (2007) Effects of thermal manipulation during early and late embryogenesis on thermotolerance and breast muscle characteristics in broiler chickens. Poultry Science 86: 795-800.

W.E. DONALDSON and V.L. CHRISTENSEN (1991) Dietary carbohydrate level and glucose metabolism in turkey poults. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A 98: 347-350.

W.E. DONALDSON , V.L. CHRISTENSEN and KRUEGER. K.K. (1991) Effects of stressors on blood glucose and hepatic glycogen concentrations in turkey poults. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A 100: 945-947.

O. ELIBOL , S.D. PEAK and J. BRAKE (2002) Effect of flock age, length of egg storage, and frequency of turning during storage on hatchability of broiler hatching eggs. Poultry Science 81: 945-950.

O.T. FOYE , Z. UNI and P.R. FERKET (2006) Effect of in ovo feeding egg white protein, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, and carbohydrates on glycogen status and neonatal growth of turkeys. Poultry Science 85: 1185-1192.

O.T. FOYE , P.R. FERKET and Z. UNI (2007a) The effects of in ovo feeding arginine, beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl-butyrate, and protein on jejunal digestive and absorptive activity in embryonic and neonatal turkey poults. Poultry Science 86: 2343-2349.

O.T. FOYE , P.R. FERKET and Z. UNI (2007b) Ontogeny of energy and carbohydrate utilisation of the precocial avian embryo and hatchling. Avian and Poultry Biology Reviews 18(3): 93-101.

A. GEYRA , Z. UNI and D. and SKLAN (2001) Enterocyte dynamics and mucosal development in the posthatch chick. Poultry Science 80: 776-782.

E.R. GILBERT , H. LI , D.A. EMMERSON , K.E. WEBB JR. and E.A. WONG (2007) Developmental regulation of nutrient transporter and enzyme mRNA abundance in the small intestine of broilers. Poultry Science 86: 1739-1753.

G.H. GROSS (1985) Innervation of the complexus ("hatching") muscle of the chick. Journal of Comparative Neurology 232: 180-189.

G.B. HAVENSTEIN , P.R. FERKET and M.A. QURESHI (2003a) Growth, livability, and feed conversion of 1957 versus 2001 broilers when fed representative 1957 and 2001 broiler diets. Poultry Science 82: 1500-1508.

G.B. HAVENSTEIN , P.R. FERKET , J.L. GRIMES , M.A. QURESHI and K.E. NESTOR (2007) Comparison of the performance of 1966- versus 2003-type turkeys when fed representative 1966 and 2003 turkey diets: growth rate, livability, and feed conversion. Poultry Science 86: 232-240.

R.M. HULET (2007) Managing incubation: where are we and why? Poultry Science 86: 1017-1019.

P.M. JEHLE , R.D. FUSSGAENGER , W.F. BLUM , N.K. ANGELUS , A. HOEFLICH , E. WOLF and R.J. JUNGWIRTH (1999) Differential autocrine regulation of intestine epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation by insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system components. Hormone and Metabolic Research 31: 97-102.

T.M. JOHN , J.C. GEORGE and E.T. MORAN JR. (1988) Metabolic changes in pectoral muscle and liver of turkey embryos in relation to hatching: influence of glucose and antibiotic-treatment of eggs. Poultry Science 67: 463-469.

D. JOULIA , H. BERNARDI , V. GARANDEL , F. RABENOELINA , B. VERNUS and G. CABELLO (2003) Mechanisms involved in the inhibition of myoblast proliferation and differentiation by myostatin. Experimental Cell Research 286(2): 263-275

D.M. KARCHER , J.P. MCMURTRY and T.J. APPLEGATE (2005) Developmental changes in amniotic and allantoic fluid insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I and -II concentrations of avian embryos. Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular & integrative physiology 142: 404-409.

R.W. KEIRS , E.D. PEEBLES , S.A. HUBBARD and S.K. WHITMARSH (2002) Effects of supportative gluconeogenic substrates on early performance of broilers under adequate brooding conditions. Journal of Applied Poultry Research 11: 367-372.

H.A. KREBS (1972) Some aspects of the regulation of fuel supply in omnivorous animals. Advances in Enzyme Regulation 10: 397-420.

B. LANGLEY , M. THOMAS , A. BISHOP , M. SHARMA , S. GILMOUR and R. KAMBADUR (2002) Myostatin inhibits myoblast differentiation by down-regulating MyoD expression. The Journal of Biological Chemistry 277: 49831-49840

D.R. LANGSLOW , G. CRAMB and K. SIDDLE (1979) Possible mechanisms for the increased sensitivity to glucagon and catecholamines of chicken adipose tissue during hatching. General and Comparative Endocrinology 39: 527-533.

N. LEKSRISOMPONG , H. ROMERO-SANCHEZ , P.W. PLUMSTEAD , K.E. BRANNAN and J. BRAKE (2007) Broiler incubation. 1. Effect of elevated temperature during late incubation on body weight and organs of chicks. Poultry Science 86: 2685-2691.

J.W. LU , J.P. MCMURTRY and C.N. COON (2007) Developmental changes of plasma insulin, glucagon, insulin-like growth factors, thyroid hormones, and glucose concentrations in chick embryos and hatched chicks. Poultry Science 86: 673-683.

J.P. MCMURTRY , R.W. ROSEBROUGH , D.M BROCHT , G.L. FRANCIS , Z. UPTON and P. PHELPS (1998) Assessment of developmental changes in chicken and turkey insulin-like growth factor-II by homologous radioimmunoassay. The Journal of Endocrinology 157: 463-473.

E.T. MORAN JR. (2007) Nutrition of the developing embryo and hatchling. Poultry Science 86: 1043-1049.

T. MURAMATSU , K. HIRAMOTO , N. KOSHI , J. OKUMURA , S. MIYOSHI and T. MITSUMOTO (1990) Importance of albumen content in whole-body protein synthesis of the chicken embryo during incubation. British Poultry Science 31: 101-106.

E.D. PEEBLES , R.W. KEIRS , L.W. BENNETT , T.S. CUMMINGS , S.K. WHITMARSH and P.D. GERARD (2005) Relationships among prehatch and posthatch physiological parameters in early nutrient restricted broilers hatched from eggs laid by young breeder hens. Poultry Science 84: 454-461.

M. PICARDO and A.J. DICKSON (1982) Hormonal regulation of glycogen metabolism in hepatocyte suspensions isolated from chicken embryos. Comparative biochemistry and physiology. B, Comparative biochemistry 71: 689-693.

M. SATO , T. TACHIBANA and M. FURUSE (2006) Heat production and lipid metabolism in broiler and layer chickens during embryonic development. Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Part A, Molecular & integrative physiology 143: 382-388.

T.R. SCOTT , W.A. JOHNSON , D.G. SATTERLEE and R.P. GILDERSLEEVE (1981) Circulating levels of corticosterone in the serum of developing chick embryos and newly hatched chicks. Poultry Science 60: 1314-1320.

J.L. SELL , C.R. ANGEL , F.J. PIQUER , E.G. MALLARINO and H.A. AL-BATSHAN (1991) Developmental patterns of selected characteristics of the gastrointestinal tract of young turkeys. Poultry Science 70: 1200-1205.

J.R. SMAIL (1964) A possible role of the Musculus complexus in pipping the chicken egg. The American midland naturalist 72: 499-506.

E. TAKO , P.R. FERKET and Z. UNI (2004) Effects of in ovo feeding of carbohydrates and beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate on the development of chicken intestine. Poultry Science 83: 2023-2028.

Z. UNI , Y. NOY and D. SKLAN (1999) Posthatch development of small intestinal function in the poult. Poultry Science 78: 215-222.

Z. UNI , A. GEYRA , H. BEN-HUR and D. SKLAN (2000) Small intestinal development in the young chick: crypt formation and enterocyte proliferation and migration. British Poultry Science 41: 544-551.

Z. UNI , E. TAKO , O. GAL-GARBER and D. SKLAN (2003) Morphological, molecular, and functional changes in the chicken small intestine of the late-term embryo. Poultry Science 82: 1747-1754.

Z. UNI and P.R. FERKET (2004) Methods for early nutrition and their potential. World´s Poultry Science Journal 60: 101-111.

Z. UNI , P.R. FERKET , E. TAKO and O. KEDAR (2005) In ovo feeding improves energy status of late-term chicken embryos. Poultry Science 84: 764-770.

S.G. VELLEMAN (2007) Muscle development in the embryo and hatchling. Poultry Science 86: 1050-1054.

H. ZHOU , C.M. EVOCK-CLOVER , J.P. MCMURTRY , C.M. ASHWELL and S.J. LAMONT (2007) Genome-wide linkage analysis to identify chromosomal regions affecting phenotypic traits in the chicken. IV. Metabolic traits. Poultry Science 86: 267-276.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

World's Poultry Science Journal
  • ISSN: 0043-9339
  • EISSN: 1743-4777
  • URL: /core/journals/world-s-poultry-science-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *