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The gastrointestinal tract is a dynamic ecosystem containing a complex microbial community. In this paper, the indigenous intestinal bacteria and the microbial fermentation profile particularly short chain fatty acids (SCFA), lactate, and ammonia concentrations are reviewed. The intestinal bacterial composition changes with age. The bacterial density of the small intestine increases with age and comprises of lactobacilli, streptococci, enterobacteria, fusobacteria and eubacteria. Strict anaerobes (anaerobic gram-positive cocci, Eubacterium spp., Clostridium spp., Lactobacillus spp., Fusobacterium spp. and Bacteroides) are predominating caecal bacteria in young broilers. Data from culture-based studies showed that bifidobacteria could not be isolated from young birds, but were recovered from four-week-old broilers. Caecal lactobacilli accounted for 1.5 - 24% of the caecal bacteria. Gene sequencing of caecal DNA extracts showed that the majority of bacteria belonged to Clostridiaceae. Intestinal bacterial community is influenced by the dietary ingredients, nutrient levels and physical structure of feed. SCFA and other metabolic products are affected by diet formulation and age. Additional studies are required to know the bacterial metabolic activities together with the community analysis of the intestinal bacteria. Feed composition and processing have great potential to influence the activities of intestinal bacteria towards a desired direction in order to support animal health, well-being and microbial safety of broiler meat.
Institute of Nutrition, Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Science, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria 2:
Institute of Nutrition, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Free University of Berlin, Germany