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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Gut microbiota activity in chickens from two genetic lines and with outdoor-preferring, moderate-preferring, and indoor-preferring ranging profiles

Sztandarski, Patryk; Marchewka, Joanna; Konieczka, Pawel; Zdanowska-Sasiadek, Zaneta; Damaziak, Krzysztof; Riber, Anja B.; Gunnarsson, Stefan; Horbanczuk, Jaroslaw Olav


Despite the existing research into the gut microbiome of meat chickens, the associations between gut microbiome composition, its activity and chicken outdoor ranging frequency remain unexplored. The aim of this study was to determine the gut microbiota composition, activity and metabolic products in chickens of 2 different lines and 3 ranging profiles. Sixty non-beak trimmed birds, either Sasso or Green-legged Partridge were housed with access to outdoor ranges from wk. 5 to 10 of age. Outdoor ranges were video recorded to obtain frequencies of the birds’ range use. The information about relative abundance of selected bacterial groups in the ceca including Lactobacillus spp., E. coli, Bifidobacterium spp., and Clostridium spp. was obtained with the PCR method. Gut microbiota activity was assessed based on the glycolytic activity of bacterial enzymes including, α-glucosidase, β-glucosidase, α-galactosidase, β-galactosidase, and β-glucuronidase as well as based on the concentration of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in the caecal digesta. Statistical analysis was conducted by generalized linear mixed models, applying the breed and ranging profile as fixed effects and pen as a random factor. The lowest relative abundance of Bifidobacterium spp. was found in the cecal content of indoor-preferring Sasso birds (0.01 ± 0.001), as compared to all other birds in the experiment (ranging from 0.03 ± 0.01 to 0.11 ± 0.07; P = 0.0002). The lowest relative abundance of E. coli was identified for all outdoor-preferring birds and indoor- preferring Sasso birds (0.01 ± 0.001; P = 0.0087). Cecal activity of: α-glucosidase, β-glucuronidase and β-galactosidase was higher in Green-legged Partridges, as compared to Sasso (P = 0.013; P = 0.008; P = 0.004). Valeric acid concentrations were higher in moderate Green-legged Partridges than in Sasso of the same ranging profile (2.03 ± 0.16 vs. 1.5 ± 0.17; 0.016). The majority of the current results confirmed an effect of genotype and ranging profile on the various analyzed parameters. In outdoor-preferring birds, the consumption of pasture originating feed sources as a supplement to the indoor accessible cereal-based diet likely caused the positive effects on the birds’ microbial profile.


free range; broiler; organic; microbiota activity

Published in

Poultry Science
2022, volume: 101, number: 10, article number: 102039

Authors' information

Sztandarski, Patryk
Polish Academy of Sciences
Marchewka, Joanna
Polish Academy of Sciences
Konieczka, Paweł
Warmia and Mazury University
Zdanowska-Sąsiadek, Żaneta
Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN)
Damaziak, Krzysztof
Warsaw University of Life Sciences
Riber, Anja B.
Aarhus University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health
Horbanczuk, Jaroslaw Olav
Polish Academy of Sciences

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science

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