Protecting gut health is one of the most impactful ways to support poultry performance. But gut health is incredibly complex and there is no one size fits all solution. The best course of action – understanding the true cost of Necrotic enteritis in poultry and identifying challenges that present the most significant risks to gut health.
Cost of Enteritis in Poultry
Necrotic enteritis disrupts the poultry gut and prevents animals from achieving their full genetic potential. Reduced performance resulting from Necrotic enteritis equates to real losses for producers. In fact, experts have estimated Necrotic enteritis costs the global poultry industry $2 billion USD annually, primarily through bird mortality, performance losses as well as prevention and treatment strategies.
Here are some real-life examples:
- Brash and Petrik 2014 observed a 1-10% reduction in egg production and 2-gram loss in egg weight resulting from Focal Duodenal Necrosis.
- Cao et al. 2013 noticed that after 28 days of infection, birds had an average loss on daily live weight fain equivalent to 6.5 grams.
- Sawale et al. 2010 and Dhillion et al. 2004 report that Necrotic enteritis can cause up to 6% flock mortality per month.
Clostridium perfringens in Poultry
Clostridia is a normal inhabitant of the poultry gastrointestinal tract. Increased pathogen prevalence and animal stress can cause shifts in the natural microbiome and allows Clostridia to outcompete other microbiota members, increasing bird susceptibility to Necrotic enteritis.
How Does it Enter Live Production?
Feed is a fomite for Clostridia perfringens. Analysis of over 2000 feed samples by our experts in the Anitox Laboratory has revealed that Clostridia perfringens is prevalent in cereal grain by-products, animal protein meals, vegetable oils and finished feeds.
High microbial loads in feed and feed ingredients increase the likelihood of feed-source pathogen introduction to the GIT. Feed-source pathogens can disrupt the natural microbiome, especially in young and stressed birds, creating the opportunity for Clostridia perfringens infection.
How Does it Disrupt Poultry Gut Health?
Microbial, physical, chemical and immunological barriers exist within the GIT to protect birds from harmful pathogens. When tissue damage occurs as a result of stress, pathogen infection or toxin production the intestine produces a protective mucus. Unfortunately, Clostridia perfringens is able to use nutrients within the protective mucus and colonize. In addition, well-established Clostridia perfringens produce toxins that further damage GIT tissues and predispose the bird to Necrotic enteritis.
Necrotic Enteritis Prevention
For Necrotic enteritis to occur the GIT must susceptible and a challenge presented. High and variable microbial loads in feed challenge the GIT. Mitigating Clostridia perfringens in feed helps producers keep Clostridia prevalence low and prevents conditions leading to Necrotic enteritis.
Preventing Necrotic enteritis and Clostridia infections can be successfully achieved by investing in strategies that accomplish two things:
- Protect GIT integrity by preventing injury
- Controlling Clostridia prevalence
Gut health is best supported through proper management, top-notch nutrition and reduction of environmental stressors. A holistic program that protects gut health and mitigates Clostridia infection includes microbiome support, vaccination, biosecurity procedures, poultry house hygiene and feed pathogen control.
One of the most impactful things poultry producers can do to prevent Necrotic enteritis is implement effective feed pathogen control. Studies have shown that nearly 60% of feed ingredients and 84% of mixed feed samples are contaminated with Clostridia. Considering that feed makes up 70% of production expenses and is provided to birds every day, it makes sense to ensure that it is high-quality and pathogen-free until the point of consumption. Feed sanitizers reduce variable feed microbial loads and mitigate feed-source pathogens detrimental to gut health and bird performance.
To learn more about how feed pathogen control can support poultry performance, contact a clean feed expert today.