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Biology of the gastro-intestinal tract in poultry

Posted on 24. February, 2015.

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The gastro-intestinal tract is important for digestion and nutrient absorption. In poultry, it also poses major metabolic demands. For instance in the chicken, the gastro-intestinal tract represents only 1.5% of the body weight but requires 8% of the energy metabolised.

There have been tremendous advances in our knowledge of the biological processes of poultry and other domesticated animals and model species. These have been made possible by advances in the techniques and approaches that are now available. This includes genomics, proteomics, immunocytochemistry and a panoply of analytical tools for the detailed characterisation of microbial populations, peptides, nutrients and metabolites. Studies of the biology of the gastro-intestinal tract of poultry can be considered under a series of “silos” or disciplines such as nutrition, physiology, anatomy, food safety, microbiology, immunology and genetics. This article aims to comprehensively review and integrate the available knowledge on the biology of the gastro-intestinal tract in poultry. This will be discussed with sections on the following: oesophagus, crop, proventriculus/gizzard, small intestine, colon and caeca. 

Read the full article in  Avian Biology Research, Volume 7, Number 4, December 2014, pp. 193-222.

Authors: Colin G. Scanes and Krystyna Pierzchala- Koziec

Keywords: gastro-intestiunal tract, poultry, chicken, neuropeptide, gut hormone, gastro-intestinal bacteria, immune functioning


Image:  Histological structure of regions of the chicken gastro-intestinal tract.MM, mucous membrane; SM, submucosa;MT, muscular tunic. Haematoxylin and eosin staining, scale=100 µm. Author of histology and photographs: A.Hrabia.
Description according to McLelland (1979)