Gut integrity depends on several factors and requires a comprehensive strategy; therefore, Hipra organised their 1st Gut Health Perspective Symposium (GHP) in Ghent to improve its knowledge about this subject and provide long-term preventive solutions to its customers.
Around 85 participants (Veterinarians and Technicians of the Poultry Meat Sector) who came from 10 different countries of the European Union (Portugal, Spain, France, The UK, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Poland and Greece) attended the program.
During a technical visit to a broiler farm the participants were given a look into farming conditions and gut health in Belgium. At the farm of Tom Serraerens they heard that a heavy barn infection with coccidiosis was hard to fight. Resistant intestinal protozoan parasites of Eimeria genus can render coccidiostats almost useless. Battling coccidiosis with a vaccine was his last resort for Serraerens. Veterinarian Maarten De Gussem explained the situation on the farm and gave the participants detailed information how to tackle coccidiosis. De Gussem: “One tends to look at the birds that are not performing optimally, but to get a good idea of what is going on in the flock you should open up seemingly healthy birds too. The different subtypes of Eimeria cause lesions in different places in the intestinal tract, so you have to inspect the upper as well as the lower intestines. The most important advise I give to all my veterinarian colleagues is to open up the birds in broad daylight. Lesion scores 1 and 2 (whie spots as small as pin pricks) are nearly impossible to detect under artificial lighting or in overcloud conditions outside.’’ According to the veterinarian you can only act on things you see, so taking the little extra effort to look at the birds outside of the house is pretty important.
But there is more to gut health than coccidiosis. After the technical visit 5 internationally renowned speakers approached the gut health problem from different perspectives; Nutrition, Pathology, Genetics, R&D and the Field. For the nutrition perspective, the nutritionist Jan Van Ginderachter (Vanden Avenne Feed Mill) explained the influence of feed presentation on zootechnical results, whereas for the pathology perspective, Dr Wil Landman (GD – Animal Health Service, Deventer) showed the results of a prevalence study on intestinal pathogens in Dutch commercial broilers. He raised the question if antibiotic use is justified in cases of intestinal disorders. His answer, a clear ‘NO’. Antibiotics may aid in controlling dysbacteriosis, but may also induce it.
To continue, for the genetic perspective, Dr Richard Bailey (Aviagen Ltd.) shared the primary breeder’s vision on intestinal health and for the R&D perspective, Dr Marc Pagès, from Hipra’s R&D Biologicals, reported the results of anticoccidial sensitivity tests from a farm vaccinated with Hipracox, a live vaccine for preventing coccidiosis. According to Pagès three consecutive vaccinations do not compromise performance and they do eliminate the coccidiosis problems for at least two flocks after vaccination. The vaccinations do change the resistance profile, but three consecutive vaccinations may be insufficient to change the profile to full sensitivity.
To conclude, Michiel Van Leuven (Veterinary Practitioner for Degudap) shared his field perspective with coccidiosis vaccines on Belgian broiler farms.
For more information see World Poultry magazine Vol 29 nr 4