Intestinal Integrity Stability through Effective Coccidiosis Control Critical for Bird Health and Performance, Says Elanco – INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES

Source: Elanco via Feedinfo

Coccidiosis control goes hand in hand with the stability of intestinal integrity. It is a wide-spread, challenging problem which affects flocks globally and negatively impacts bird health, performance and profitability.

While producers may have embraced several strategies for tackling it, Elanco believes that the key is to maintain intestinal integrity stability through consistent use of a robust anticoccidial programme using narasin as part of a three-pronged, practical approach.

In this Industry Perspectives, Jerry Glover, Elanco’s Poultry Head of Sales for UK and Ireland, explains the company’s approach, and why intestinal stability and a long-term view of the issue are so important.

His colleague Bauer Alvarenga, Elanco’s Senior Technical Consultant for Brazil, discusses the performance benefits, as well as highlighting case studies where customers have successfully used the non-rotational approach.


[Feedinfo] Let’s start with a crucial question. Coccidiosis is a disease where producers have historically been advised to rotate products to reduce resistance. Your approach recommends the opposite, with consistent and stable use of narasin (Maxiban, Monteban). What has changed and why does the old advice not apply here?

[Jerry Glover] The old advice stood on solid ground for the use of chemical anticoccidials where we knew resistant coccidial populations grew quickly and dominated sensitive strains on farm. However, ionophores and complex potentiated ionophores allow a small amount of coccidial ‘leakage’, initiating an immune response in the bird. As the immune response doesn’t differentiate between resistant and sensitive strains, we know that the overall ratios in the coccidial population remain the same while having a lower overall ‘total’ population on farm.

Jerry Glover, Elanco

Jerry Glover
Poultry Head of Sales for UK and Ireland


[Feedinfo] Your key point is about ensuring intestinal integrity stability and its role in effective coccidiosis control. Why is this critical and what are the implications of instability in terms of health and performance?

[Jerry Glover] Stable coccidial populations are achieved using a three-pronged approach. Firstly, good environment and biosecurity controls on farm, secondly good immune responses from a healthy bird and lastly, a dependable and consistent anticoccidial programme. When we make too many changes, or we compromise one of these areas, the coccidial population can grow and become unstable. Continuous focus on these three areas over time reduces coccidial populations and stabilises the overall farm challenge flock by flock.


[Feedinfo] Can you talk about the performance aspects: how do flocks on a stable, non-rotational coccidiostat programme perform compared to those who adopting the approach of rotating products? Are there long-term impacts?

Bauer Alvarenga, Elanco

Bauer Alvarenga
Senior Technical Consultant for Brazil

[Bauer Alvarenga] The continuous use of narasin as a non-rotational coccidiostat programme has revealed consistent and significant improvements, mainly in the feed conversion rate, which positively influences the general performance and consequently profitability of companies that have adopted this strategy. There are undoubtedly several factors that influence feed conversion; however, this improvement is consistent across different broiler companies that have adopted the use of narasin for consecutive years in Latin America and Europe.


[Feedinfo] We know now that some of the previously used methods such as ASTs and oocyst counts do not tell us the full story of field performance. Can you tell us more about practical in-field experience of continuous programmes in terms of assessing intestinal integrity stability and ongoing efficacy of programmes?

[Bauer Alvarenga] Methods such as AST and oocyst counts do not tell us the full story of field performance, as the analyses don’t mimic what happens in the field. The number of oocysts used to cause infection in AST tests, for example, is much greater than the amount of oocysts that birds ingest daily, and it also does not allow the immune system to control coccidiosis.

On the other hand, macroscopic evaluations in birds are better predictors of performance. Elanco's assessment, HTSi (Health Tracking System), evaluates 23 intestinal lesions that make up the Intestinal Integrity (I²) Index, in addition to other factors related to Respiratory Integrity and animal welfare.  According to Kasab-Bachi et al (2017) the I² Index can be used to predict bird performance. As the I² Index score increased by one unit, ADG increased by 0.04g (P = 0.001), FCR decreased by 0.0013 (P < 0.001) and EPEF increased by 0.52 (P < 0.001).

Analysis of the HTSi database reveals that the non-rotational coccidiostat programme with narasin provides greater stability of intestinal integrity and controls the coccidia that most impact broilers, resulting in a low prevalence and lesion score of coccidiosis over the years, regardless of the season.


[Feedinfo] How many flock owners are currently taking this non-rotational approach, and is there a particular system or region where it is really well established? How long can customers stay on the right programme and what is the potential if more producers adopted it?

[Bauer Alvarenga] In Brazil, an important producer and exporter, a notable shift is underway as roughly a quarter of producers embrace the non-rotational coccidiostat regimen featuring narasin. These companies operate across diverse regions of Brazil, with one particularly striking case emerging; a firm steadfast in its non-rotational approach for a seven-year span, maintaining consistent intestinal integrity and coccidiosis control, with high bird performance

But it is important to highlight that there is no magic number regarding the maximum period that a company can remain in the narasin programme, considering that resistance to ionophores and potentiated ionophores is extremely unlikely and the Brazilian experience involves companies that have used narasin for more than 10 years. This underscores the efficacy and resilience of this strategy as a basis for maintaining long-term intestinal integrity and aiming for productivity and profitability in the poultry sector.


[Feedinfo] The teachings of coccidiosis management appear to not have changed for decades, so stopping rotation may seem daunting. What advice would you give to customers seeking to take advantage of this - how should they best transition to a long-term programme?

[Jerry Glover] I would advise farmers to trust in the three-pronged approach and take a much longer-term view of managing coccidial populations. We are not trying to intervene with an anticoccidial programme. More so, we are trying to work alongside the immune response of the bird and the environmental and biosecurity controls in order to reduce overall coccidial populations flock by flock. We have been doing this successfully on farms in the UK for over 20 years using the same narasin programmes continuously to stabilise populations.


Published in association with Elanco