Chickens Prefer Prebiotics and Early Probiotic Treatment for Allergy Fails

Take five
These chicks would like prebiotics in their food.
Chicken farmers may benefit from prebiotic-enriched feed. Tagatose is the prebiotic of choice for Lactobacilli, and Lactobacillus reuteri treatment falls short in the prevention of respiratory allergies in children.

Prebiotics Help Chicken Growth

Improving digestion in chickens is a concern for chicken farmers as improved digestions means bigger chickens for less feed. Experiments performed by the University of Illinois suggest that prebiotics may be an important component for chicken diets. In a series of three experiments, they combined different diets with a prebiotic mixture. Even though the results were not precisely the same for each experiment, the prebiotics did show signs of improving food metabolization, chicken size and the microflora.

Tagatose, a Potential New Prebiotic

One of the most widely studied prebiotics is fructo-oligosacchide (FOS), and it is known to enhance the growth of Bifidobacteria and Clostridium species. Tagatose was tested by researchers in South Korea in combination with Lactobacillus casei 01 and L. rhamnosus GG. Tagatose enhanced their growth and increased their abilities to stick to intestinal cells and degrade cholesterol. Gene analysis of the bacteria given tagatose showed that they up-regulated genes associated with carbohydrate utilization. Tagatose could be a potential prebiotic that could be combined with the Lactobacilli species in functional foods.

No Long-term Respiratory Allergy Benefit for Early Probiotic Treatment

Probiotic treatment studies on pregnant women and their newborn infants showed that early intervention with L. reuteri could lower eczema problems in infancy. In a seven-year follow up study, researchers from Sweden looked to see if any benefits could also be seen for respiratory allergies. No benefits were measured suggesting that L. reuteri, while having some value for eczema, may not be the most suitable probiotic species for long-term respiratory allergy treatment.


Abrahamsson TR, Jakobsson T, Björkstén B, Oldaeus G, Jenmalm MC. No effect of probiotics on respiratory allergies: a seven-year follow-up of a randomized controlled trial in infancy. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2013 Sep;24(6):556-61. doi: 10.1111/pai.12104. Epub 2013 Jul 31.

Jacobs C, Parsons CM.The effects of coarse ground corn, whole sorghum, and a prebiotic on growth performance, nutrient digestibility, and cecal microbial populations in broilers fed diets with and without corn distillers dried grains with solubles. Poult Sci. 2013 Sep;92(9):2347-57. doi: 10.3382/ps.2012-02928.

Koh JH, Choi SH, Park SW, Choi NJ, Kim Y, Kim SH. Synbiotic impact of tagatose on viability of Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG mediated by the phosphotransferase system (PTS). Food Microbiol. 2013 Oct;36(1):7-13. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Mar 28.