The wheat variety used in the diet of laying hens influences colonization with the intestinal spirochaete Brachyspira intermedia

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-590
Journal / PublicationAvian Pathology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


This study investigated whether feeding different wheat varieties to laying hens could influence colonization with the intestinal spirochaete Brachyspira intermedia. Fifty ISA-Brown laying hens were divided into two groups. One group were fed a laying-hen diet formulated with wheat variety Westonia, and one were fed the diet incorporating variety Stilleto. Each group was divided into 15 hens experimentally infected with B. intermedia and 10 uninfected controls. The 30 infected hens were housed in individual cages in one room, and the controls were similarly housed in another room. Following administration of cultures of B. intermedia strain HB60 by crop-tube over 3 days, cloacal swabs were taken for spirochaete culture every 3 to 4 days. The water content of caecal faeces, and egg production and body weight were measured weekly. The hens were killed after 4 weeks, the caeca cultured for spirochaetes and the viscosity of the ileal contents measured. A total of 48/120 (40%) of the excreta samples from infected hens fed Westonia contained B. intermedia, compared with 21/120 (17.5%) for Stiletto (P = 0.0002). The ileal viscosity of hens fed Westonia also was higher (P = 0.048), but viscosity was not clearly related to the non-starch polysaccharide (NSP) content of the wheats. Westonia had a slightly higher total NSP content than Stiletto, but the ratio of soluble to insoluble NSP was lower. Infected hens developed wetter excreta, but neither infection nor diet altered egg production. In conclusion, the wheat variety can influence colonization with B. intermedia, apparently through diet-related alterations in the intestinal microenvironment.

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