Gut health problems are a “consistent companion of current poultry growing” systems that impair bird welfare and performance, according to Dr Franco Calini, an advisor to the feed and animal industries. Metabolic diseases are also linked to gut health - using a multi-strain probiotic additive can play a role in reducing BCO lameness in birds.
Speaking at the Biomin seminar on "The Multifacets of Gut Performance and Lameness" at the University of Bologna in Italy, Dr Calini stated "Litter problems tend to be most prevalent gut health issues, followed by ammonia, Hock burns and footpad dermatitis. The wide variability among gut health issues means that a 'one problem, one solution' approach cannot work".
Genome sequencing is one technology that is allowing researchers to investigate the relationship between the ceca microbiota and the chicken more closely. "Recent technological advances have made genome sequencing much quicker and less expensive than in the past," noted Alessandra De Cesare, research assistant in the Food Safety Laboratory at the University of Bologna.
"Next generation sequencing (NGS) can serve to analyse bacterial populations within the gastrointestinal tract and interactions within that community. Bacteria in chicken's gastrointestinal tract can vary a lot even among samples taken from a single flock," she said.
Metabolic diseases are also linked to gut health. "Bacterial Chondronecrosis with Osteomyelitis (BCO) is a bacterial infection that starts in the growth plate cartilage. Right now it's probably the most common cause of lameness in the United States," explained Prof. Robert Wideman of the University of Arkansas. He presented peer-reviewed study results showing that PoultryStar can reduce the incidence of BCO lameness in broilers by more than half, even across different genetic lines.
"A competitive exclusion strategy using a multi-strain probiotic additive such as PoultryStar can play a role in reducing the incidence of BCO lameness in birds," remarked Luca Vandi, BIOMIN Technical & Marketing Director for EMA. He shared results from a farm in the Netherlands showing genuine performance improvements and net return on investment (ROI) gains in 75% of barns applying the product for broilers. "The clear reduction in BCO lameness in this case was accompanied by less antibiotic use," he added.
World Poultry, in collaboration with Biomin, recently held a webinar on how to overcome BCO lameness without antibiotics. This webinar can be viewed here.