WATT PoultryUSA - January 2018 - 47
Don't clean out litter after each flock:
Placing new litter in the house after every
flock is one of the worst things to do for a
no-antibiotics-ever (NAE) flock. Used litter is more
absorbent than new litter.
Do combine a vaccine and chemical
coccidiostat: Hofacre said no single
vaccine works any better than the rest in his
experience. However, the issue on which to focus is
the proper dosage for each bird. Combining a vaccine
and a chemical coccidiostat helps ensure proper
distribution of the treatment.
Do give at least 14 days of downtime
in between flocks: If the downtime period
is cut to 10 or even seven days, then the grower
is asking for trouble. At least 14 days is necessary.
Do expect feed passage: Feed passage
is going to happen. Expect it to increase after
the second feeding. Passage of up to 15 percent
is normal. Vegetarian diets can make the problem
Do monitor feeding closely: Feed
changes at the wrong time can be a disaster.
A change during the peak of the coccidiostat
cycle can add further stress for the birds and lead to
health problems. Higher protein diets can also lead
to higher necrotic enteritis. Water quality also plays
a role and farmers are encouraged to elevate their
disinfection levels in ABF programs.
Effectiveness of antibiotic alternatives
Enzymes: Enzymes, like phytase, help birds digest
nutrients so they don't wind up feeding the wrong
kinds of bacteria lower in the digestive tract. Research
shows phytase can drop necrotic enteritis infection
rates by half.
Prebiotics: Ideally, prebiotics are a food source for
the desired gut flora rather than the undesirable. For
instance, Hofacre said, organisms that produce butyric
January 2018 ❙ www.WATTAgNet.com
acid are positive for the gut environment. Again, the
products don't work as well as growth-promoting antibiotics, but mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS) products
can help improve feed efficiency and reduce mortality.
Probiotics: Probiotics are the "good bugs,"
Hofacre said. They stabilize and balance the intestinal
microbiota and limit the population of pathogenic bacteria. Bacillus products in particular can be placed in
the feed and survive elevated temperatures to facilitate
the consistency of product delivery among many flocks
fed by different growers. Probiotics can help elevate
weight gain and improve feed efficiency. The effectiveness of probiotic products can vary greatly and it
may be, he said, that a rotation of different products is
needed for the greatest effect.
Organic acids: These products work well as antibiotic compounds because they get taken up into the
bacteria and cause cell death through a biological process. In a way, Hofacre said, they are antimicrobials
and an important piece of the ABF puzzle. Complex
organic acids target the lower gut to control clostridium and other bacteria. Organic acids used as a treatment or a continuous feed additive can improve feed
conversion and body weight.
Phytoceuticals: A variety of products with an origin as a plant product or plant extract - also referred
to as phytogenics - are appearing on the market and
show usefulness as an alternative to antibiotics. The
products work either as antimicrobials, supplements to
improve immune response, or help birds improve their
ability to metabolize toxins. While some may be skeptical of their utility, a recent essential oils study with
a necrotic enteritis challenge showed how the product
helped improve body weight gain and feed efficiency
while lowering mortality. As they are more understood, they will play a big role in controlling coccidia
in ABF programs, Hofacre said. ■
Understanding antibiotic use, risks of