The UK has launched a modified live E. coli vaccine that can be used on chicks beginning at one day of age and is set to bring major benefits in safeguarding the health of broilers, pullets for egg laying and breeding stock, according to the government.

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The vaccine was developed from research beginning in the 1990s at the government’s veterinary laboratories at Weybridge in the UK, employing genome technology to produce an avirulent strain of E.coli that induces protective immunity to the pathogenic strains of the bacteria. The vaccine is completely non-pathogenic, and does not persist in the bird or the environment for any significant period of time. It is administered as a coarse spray with onset of immunity 14 days afterwards and duration of immunity for up to 12 weeks. It can be used from day-old up to six weeks before the onset of lay, and has a nil day withdrawal period, according to developers.