Research Focus – Evaluation of the prebiotic effects of xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS) in laying hens.

Dr Natalie Morgan from Curtin University has a bit of a sweet tooth… Following on from her successful research in broiler chickens, Natalie’s recently funded project ‘Evaluation of the prebiotic effects of xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS) in laying hens” is looking at the small chain sugars and how they fuel microbiota and stimulate fermentation in the gastrointestinal tract. Numerous recent studies have proven that supplementing broiler poultry diets with XOS improves bird performance, gastrointestinal health, and nutrient utilisation. However, this has yet to be investigated in laying hens.

The XOS products that will be tested in these studies contain a mixture of XOS with different molecular weights, with a recent PHA-funded project proving that the size of the XOS fraction directly influences its efficacy in meat chickens. This project aims to assess the impact of different size xylo-oligosaccharides in laying hens as well as determine whether feeding XOS to pullets improves performance in the adult bird, by priming the microbiome to achieve increased fibre-degrading capabilities, increasing laying performance and feed efficiency.

This project has been funded through Poultry Hub Australia’s Research in Industry program. This program aims to fund research that is immediately relevant to the Australian poultry industry. It hopes to encourage scientists to engage directly with industry partners, and work together to develop innovative, applied research projects to solve problems faced by the Australian poultry industry. PHA will again be running the program in 2024 with selection criteria and submission deadlines to be announced in next month’s eCHOOK newsletter.

For more information on Natalie’s project or PHA Funding opportunities, visit

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