Poult Sci. 2023 Aug 22;102(11):103057. doi: 10.1016/j.psj.2023.103057. Online ahead of print.
In the commercial egg industry, avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) can lead to significant economic loss. The Poulvac E. coli vaccine (PECV) is a commercially available attenuated live vaccine commonly applied via spray or drinking water to protect against losses associated with colibacillosis. The PECV has not been tested in layer hatching eggs using in ovo injection. Therefore, the purpose of this experiment was to determine the effects of injecting 50 μL of different doses of the PECV into Hy-Line W-36-layer hatching eggs on the hatchability and quality characteristics of hatchlings. At 18 d of incubation (DOI), treatments included 1 noninjected and 1 diluent-injected control. Furthermore, PECV treatments included a full dose (4.4 × 108E. coli CFU) or serial dilutions of the full dose to produce 4.4 × 106, 4.4 × 104, or 4.4 × 102 CFU doses of E. coli. In ovo injections targeted the amnion. Percent hatchability of live embryonated eggs (HI), percent residue eggs, hatchling mortality, and female chick whole and yolk-free BW, relative yolk sac weight, and body length were among the variables examined. Treatment significantly (P < 0.0001) affected HI, with HI being highest in the control groups (97.3% in the noninjected and 94.2% in the diluent-injected), and with HI values being 89.0, 88.9, 84.4, and 71.2% in the 4.4 × 102, 4.4 × 104, 4.4 × 106, and 4.4 × 108 CFU E. coli dose treatments, respectively. The percentage of live embryos that did not complete hatch but that pipped internally (P = 0.024) or externally (P < 0.0001) were significantly affected by treatment, with percentages being highest in the 4.4 × 108 CFU treatment. Female chick body length was significantly (P < 0.0001) affected by treatment and was longer in both control groups and in the 1 × 102 CFU E. coli treatment in comparison to all other treatments. Yolk-free female chick BW was significantly (P = 0.034) affected by treatment and was lower in the 4.4 × 106 CFU and 4.4 × 108 CFU treatments when compared to the diluent-injected control group. An increase in the E. coli concentration administered in the amnion of embryonated layer hatching eggs at 18 DOI decreased hatch success and female chick yolk-free BW and body length.