The Impact of Anticoccidial Programs on the Use of Antimicrobial Treatments in Field Conditions

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Article | 06.05.2020

A poultry veterinary clinic in Belgium wanted to elucidate the reasons for their antimicrobial treatments linked to enteric disorders. Since coccidiosis is one of the main triggering factors for intestinal disorders such as dysbacteriosis and necrotic enteritis, the possibility of an underlying coccidiosis problem was considered. In order to test this hypothesis, Aviapp®, the broiler health platform developed by Huvepharma®, was used to collect data on farm which was then matched to information on the use of antimicrobials for enteric problems in each flock. 

An analysis was made using intestinal health data from Aviapp® and treatment data collected over a 7-month period (January to July 2019) in 763 Belgian broiler flocks.

Among the 763 flocks, two different coccidiosis programs were applied through the period: 

  • 154 flocks used nicarbazin / narasin from day 1 until thinning (nicarbazin / narasin full)
  • 609 flocks used nicarbazin / narasin until day 20/21 followed by Sacox® until thinning (nicarbazin / narasin - Sacox® shuttle)

The anticoccidial products were used at the registered dosages until thinning. As a standard practice, thinning took place at an average of 32 days and slaughter took place at an average age of 38 days. After thinning, all flocks received blank feed until slaughter.

Intestinal health monitoring included coccidiosis scoring (Johnson and Reid, 1970) and dysbacteriosis scoring (Teirlynck et al., 2011), performed on at least five birds per flock with an age range of 14 - 38 days.

Birds on the nicarbazin / narasin - Sacox® shuttle program showed lower average dysbacteriosis (0.46) and coccidiosis (0.76) scores in comparison to the nicarbazin / narasin full program (0.57 and 0.95, respectively), indicating better coccidiosis control in the nicarbazin / narasin - Sacox® shuttle program (Table 1). 

Table 1. Intestinal health scoring results

Eimeria acervulina was the main species diagnosed and was better controlled by the nicarbazin / narasin - Sacox® shuttle program (0.56 vs 0.83 for nicarbazin / narasin full; Figure 1). 

Figure 1. Coccidiosis lesion scoring results per group

In order to evaluate further differences between the different anticoccidial programs, the antimicrobial usage for enteric problems (in mg active/bird placed) was documented for each flock. The amount of antimicrobials used for enteric problems was lower in the flocks receiving the nicarbazin / narasin - Sacox® shuttle program (24.55 mg active/bird placed) compared to the flocks on the nicarbazin / narasin full program (28.33 mg active/bird placed; Table 2). 

Table 2. Antimicrobial usage for enteric problems, expressed in mg active per bird placed

When looking at the percentage of flocks requiring enteric treatment (Figure 2), this was higher in the farms on the nicarbazin / narasin program than in the farms on the nicarbazin / narasin - Sacox® shuttle (59.7% vs 44.5%, respectively). 

Figure 2. Percentage of flocks requiring enteric treatment

The analysis of data collected in Aviapp® supported the hypothesis that lower coccidiosis pressure (better coccidiosis control) has a positive impact on the amount of antimicrobial active used to treat enteric problems. Suboptimal coccidiosis control can be a driver for increased antimicrobial usage.

Aviapp® allows for easy and efficient data collection and processing, providing an excellent tool for poultry producers but also for veterinarians to follow-up health and performance.


References are available on request.

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