Managing Gut Health, A Multi-Factorial Approach

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Article | 01.08.2019

With the understanding of gut health growing every day, managing it properly has become more and more of a priority. One key point has been clear since the beginning: gut health is a complex multi-factorial concept, and as such improving and maintaining it requires an holistic approach. Luckily, the tools to do so have evolved as well, and new methods emerge frequently.

Two major gut health issues are coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis (NE). Although caused by different pathogens, there definitely is an interaction between the two challenges: the presence of coccidiosis is often an important predisposing factor for the development of NE. Because of this link, it is very likely that the current rise of NE problems in the field is linked to suboptimal coccidiosis control.

The practical implication is that both challenges should be dealt with at the same time. However, monitoring the actual coccidiosis pressure is difficult and a challenge in itself. It is therefore crucial to have a good and validated coccidiosis control programme in place, including the use of anticoccidioals and product rotation in order to maintain their efficacy.

The well-known probiotic B-Act® recently obtained an extension to its current European approval for use in broilers and pre-laying birds, by adding turkeys and minor avian species to the list of registered species.


The above mentioned coccidiosis program ties in with having a good NE control program, of which supporting gut integrity and its microbiota is a crucial part. With this goal in mind, probiotics form an interesting tool to achieve this, especially as the pressure on the use of classic antimicrobials is increasing. Depending on the strain selected, these viable beneficial bacteria are able to influence the gut and its microbiota in multiple ways. An example of this is minimising the risk of pathogens, such as Clostridium perfringens. A well-known probiotic to do so is B-Act®, which has proven its efficacy under many different conditions. The probiotic recently obtained an extension to its current European approval for use in broilers and pre-laying birds, by adding turkeys and minor avian species to the list of registered species.

The specific Bacillus licheniformis strain in B-Act® has a unique mode of action, based on the concept of competitive exclusion. This goes a lot wider than just competition for space and nutrients - even though Bacillus spp. are often only given credit for this. For example, its capacity to produce antimicrobial compounds should not be neglected. This unique mode of action allows the probiotic to mitigate Clostridium perfringens challenges efficiently, which would have otherwise led to severe NE and dysbacteriosis. Keeping this and the possibility to combine the probiotic with Stenorol® or Coxiril® (chemical anticoccidials) in mind gives B-Act® a competitive advantage, especially in those situations where producers might worry about not applying ionophores.

Approaching gut health and its management as a multi-factorial challenge and dealing with it in a similar fashion is the way forward. This includes using multiple products to work on the same challenge from different perspectives, ensuring various aspects of general gut health effectively.


This article originally appeared in Poultry World, Number 7, 2019.

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