Feed additives can protect flocks from feed-source pathogens and promote efficient production. Pathogen entrance into turkey production is multifaceted and most operations already take proactive steps to reduce pathogen prevalence with live production in the form of a biosecurity regime. Robust biosecurity measures often include:
- Strict visitor regulations
- Barn hygiene
- Pest control
- Water sanitation
- Feed interventions
Dr. Montiel, Global Director of Nutrition and Live Production, addresses a few questions on poultry feed safety.
Q: What Makes Feed Different From Other Fomites?
A: Feed is unique because it is highly centralized and is often made from ingredients sourced from all around the world. Unlike other fomites, feed has a direct line to the gut of turkeys where it can begin colonizing, impacting animal performance and feed utilization, and potentially food safety.
Q: What Pathogens Are Commonly Associated With Feed and How Do They Impact Digestion?
A: Feed-source pathogens observed in turkey production include Salmonella, E. coli, Clostridia and Avian Influenza. Feed pathogens can compete with the normal gut flora and colonize the gastrointestinal tract and causing inflammation and damage to the absorptive tissues, all of which reduce the gut’s capability to absorb nutrients. In addition, as a result of inflammation and damage, the gut will switch from absorptive to defensive mode and attempt to self-clean, secreting increase amounts of mucosal fluid flushing feed through the gastrointestinal system faster, effectively shortening the absorption time.
Q: How Do Feed Pathogens Such as Salmonella Find Their Way to Live Production When a Mitigation Step in the Form of Heat or Organic Acid Treatment Is Already in Place?
A: Recontamination. Several studies have demonstrated that pathogens have multiple points of entry into feed production and transportation. For example, one study specifically found recontamination of feed with E. coli post-pelleting. Not all feed sanitation methods are equally effective when it comes to recontamination protection. Let’s look at heat treatment first. In order to kill Salmonella, it has been recommended heat be applied for 6 minutes at 86°C. Anything less than this is not guaranteed to kill Salmonella. However, even when done correctly heat treatment is only a kill step or point-in-time protection measure. It offers no protection against recontamination of feed in the way to the points of consumption. For this reason, sometimes heat treatment is used in combination with organic acids or feed sanitizers. Applied at high doses, 5-10 kg/mT, organic acids can reduce the pathogen load in feed, but they again fail to offer true recontamination protection. Organic acids inhibit bacteria from reproducing in feed but do not prevent the re-contamination of feed by a pathogen.
Q: What Does Clean Feed Do for Turkey Producers?
A: Ultimately clean feed supports gut health and growth. Effective sanitization of turkey feed has been shown to decrease Salmonella prevalence in breeder flocks and resulted in improved production parameters in turkey broilers (Hulet RM 2007). Feed pathogens can lead to clinical disease, but even if they don’t have bacterial toxins, altered gut flora, bacterial nutrient utilization can all cause higher feed conversion rates, slower growth and lower profitability.
Feed pathogen control supports the production and profitability of turkeys by promoting intestinal health and proactively contributes to food safety by reducing the prevalence of pathogens harmful to human health.
To learn more about how Anitox supports turkey performance through feed sanitation, check out our Guide to Pathogen Control in Turkeys, or if you are ready to strengthen your feed pathogen control efforts, speak to an expert today.