Daily headlines seem to shout the news that another major restaurant is choosing to go antibiotic-free or superbugs are developing from the overuse of antibiotics in production animals and humans. An antibiotic-free future has become inevitable for producers, but how can they ensure they have the right alternatives in their arsenal to combat disease challenges from hatchery to grow-out?
Clinical associate professor at the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center, University of Georgia, Dr. Stephen Collett, discussed how to manage microbiota through the ‘feed, seed and weed’ approach and the critical steps to take in controlling coccidiosis, histomoniasis and cochlosoma without antibiotics during Alltech’s annual breakfast at the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) on Wednesday, Jan. 27. With 20 years of experience implementing antibiotic-free programs in the United States and abroad, Collett shared his strategy for managing digestive health while maximizing bird welfare, nutrient assimilation and performance during his presentation, “Antibiotics: The Cost—Public perception, trust and hospital-acquired infections. What are the alternatives?”
Collett opened the seminar by discussing the importance of focusing on the lower intestinal tract. While upper intestinal integrity determines short term performance, the composition of the microbiota determines long term success. Since the industry is now being asked to move away from traditional controls, Collett said it is important to focus on what goes on in the hind gut or caecum.
“Our number one aim is to accelerate the flora from an immature flora to a mature system,” Collett said. “The second thing we have to do is rehabilitate the health of the hind gut.”
Collett’s program to rehabilitate and accelerate the evolution of the intestinal microbiota involves seeding the gut with favorable organisms, feeding the favorable organisms and weeding out the unfavorable organisms. In seeding the gut, production is aimed at controlling the parent flock flora, applying a probiotic and managing house flora. Collett recommends a host-adapted, resident probiotic that includes Lactobacillus and Enterococcus, as transient probiotics or “non-antibiotic antibiotics” are not part of the normal flora and can over time allow unfavorable organisms within that environment to become adaptable.
In the feeding phase, the goal is to feed the favorable flora and starve the unfavorable flora through acids and enzymes. Acids can either be continuously added or only during stress periods through feed or water. Finally, weeding involves selective exclusion through the use of essential oils, antimicrobials and attachment blockers of type-1 fimbriae (Actigen®), and competitive exclusion through community management.
When it comes to disease challenges such as coccidiosis, histomoniasis and cochlosoma, Collett has turned to a technology called Natustat®, a combination essential oil product, and a type-1 fimbriae blocker, and he has seen the same results as when using a coccidial control product. Most recently, he has been working with a producer in Pennsylvania that has moved from high dependence on antibiotics to complete independence. The operation is now in the top 20 percent of the industry in terms of cost per pound of meat produced.
“Changing the paradigm of 60 years of antibiotic use is quite difficult. As a lone voice for some time, I tended to get pushed down,” Collett said. “Development is quite slow, but what I’ve seen in the last year, the industry has picked up phenomenally. Very big companies are adding these technologies and starting to see good results.”
Clinical associate professor at the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center, University of Georgia, Dr. Stephen Collett, discussed how to manage microbiota through the ‘feed, seed and weed’ approach and the critical steps to take in controlling coccidiosis without antibiotics during his presentation at Alltech’s Annual Breakfast Meeting during IPPE.