Why Chicken IgY?

Aves Labs offers a wide variety of chicken immunoglobulin Y (IgY) primary antibodies, including our popular Anti-Green Fluorescent Protein Antibody (GFP), Anti-mCherry Antibody, and our Anti-Tyrosine Hydroxylase Antibody. We also offer a range of IgY secondary antibodies raised in chickens.

To see our chicken IgY antibodies in use, please take a look at our News section and our Customer Success Blog (highlighting custom antibodies).

Higher titres against highly-conserved mammalian gene products

Since chickens are at least 100 million years removed from mammals, they tend to recognize any mammalian gene product as foreign and mount vigorous immune responses. Consequently, chickens can be particularly advantageous s a host when raising antibodies against highly conserved mammalian proteins, which may be only weakly immunogenic in mammalian hosts.

Easier double (or multiplex) immunostaining

Chicken IgY antibodies can be used together with mouse and rabbit antibodies, without the danger of cross-reactivity. Secondary antibodies against chicken IgYs do not cross-react with mammalian IgG. Chicken IgY antibodies are particularly useful in multiplex staining experiments (see Chicken Polyclonals in Multiplex Immunofluorescence).


We purify the antibodies from eggs, not serum. With rabbits, in contrast, serum is obtained by restraining the animals, and performing ear bleeds or cardiac puncture. It is simply a more humane way to produce antibodies.

Cost-effective and longer-lasting

Our chicken IgY antibody preparations are >90% IgY, and potentially have shelf-lives of 5 years or more at 4˚C. In contrast, rabbit serum (which is what most companies provide) has only a limited shelf-life at 4˚C (measured in weeks-to-months), and some biological activity is lost when frozen. The cost of having rabbit antibodies purified to comparable purities (i.e., protein A-purified) is very high.

Nearly unlimited quantities

We collect about 18 "immune eggs" from each hen, but only use 6 "immune eggs" to produce your IgY preparation. We then store the remaining 12 "immune eggs" in the refrigerator, in case you need more antibody down the road. Moreover, we can continue to house the hens (for an additional charge), in case you want us to perform additional injections (see How long does it take to make a high quality chicken antibody?).

Non-mammalian-reactive Fc domain within the stem portion of a chicken IgY

The Fc domain of chicken IgY antibodies is different from that of mammalian IgG antibodies. This provides several advantages over rabbit (or other mammalian) IgGs:

  • It reduces the likelihood of having false positives in diagnostic applications, since it is the mammalian Fc domain that binds "rheumatoid factors" or other naturally occurring anti-Fc antibodies.
  • The chicken IgY Fc domain does not activate mammalian complement systems, allowing the use of chicken IgYs in in vivo applications.
  • The chicken IgY Fc domain does not bind to mammalian Fc receptors, avoiding non-specific binding to cells expressing such receptors (e.g., macrophages and dendritic cells).

No reactivity with human anti-animal antibodies in assay samples

Human anti-animal (mammalian antibodies (such as human antimouse antibodies, HAMA) in blood/serum samples can cause interference in ELISA assays utilizing mammalian antibodies(see Endogenous Heterophile and Human anti-animal Antibodies Mode of Action with Respect to ELISA Interference). This can be avoided by using chicken IgY antibodies which will not be recognized by any human anti-animal (mammalian) antibodies present in the assay samples.

Higher signals

Chicken IgY antibodies have a higher glycosylation index than IgG antibodies, allowing greater labeling with HRP and other antibody tags when using reagents targeting the sugars on the antibody. This produces higher signals.