Nowadays there is an increasing demand for products that come from animals raised without antibiotics. The concerning thing about antibiotic resistance and the alarming situation with the superbug is that it increases the demand for these distinctive products. Problems such as coccidiosis in broilers and maintaining productive efficiency have to be taken into account.
In broiler production, coccidiosis can be controlled through the use of inonophores. Ionophores are antimicrobials and yet they are used in many countries with antibiotic reduction policies. The reason for this is that there are no public health concerns regarding this type of product. Despite this, it can (and it will) induce resistance in microbials, such as Eimeria, and will have an impact on animal health and production results as consequence.
The most significant use of antibiotics for broiler production is for the prevention of coccidiosis in poultry (ionophore coccidiostats are one type of antibiotic), and for the treatment or prevention of necrotic enteritis.
The world is connected and this connection generates millions and millions of data. We currently generate data every time we are online whether it’s by using our smartphones, GPS, social networks, when we buy things, when we go to work or when we communicate with each other, among other things.
It could be said that we leave tracks in the form of digital data due to almost every activity we carry out in our daily lives. It is predicted that by 2020, there will be 50 trillion devices connected to the Internet. So what about the poultry sector? The sector is also connected and it is becoming increasingly so. In industry, and particularly in the poultry farming industry, this digital transformation is also taking place.
For example, there are increasingly more devices being used in farms and hatcheries that have humidity sensors, sensors to regulate food, air quality control sensors, sensors for biosecurity, etc. Many of these devices are connected to the Internet and generate digital data on a daily basis. A clear example of this is with Hipraspray®, the vaccination device for COCCIDIOSIS AND RESPIRATORY DISEASES IN POULTRY which is connected to the Internet and provides 100% traceability through its HIPRAlink® software.
A series of press releases by prominent food chains and wholesalers demanding poultry that has been raised ‘without antibiotics’ has caused a quick paradigm shift in broiler production towards the reduction or elimination of antibiotics and the control of pathologies such as coccidiosis in poultry.
Poultry labelled ‘raised without antibiotics’ are distinctive products that more and more often are found in restaurants and supermarkets. However, making this type of product is a challenge for companies. One of the obstacles to raising chickens without antibiotics is coccidiosis in poultry.
A vaccine dose does not depend on body weight: the mechanism of action of vaccines is different to that of antibiotics and, as a result, the dose does not depend on the body weight of the target animal. When considering vaccines against coccidiosis in poultry, the dose is made up of a suspension of sporulated oocysts of different species of Eimeria.
In this suspension, the oocysts are not evenly distributed unless it is mixed thoroughly. If, in addition to this, the dose is reduced, the chance that the chicks will receive all the oocysts of every species decreases exponentially.
A vaccine does not have to be distributed throughout the body and the vaccine components (antigen and adjuvant) do not act directly on the pathogen. In general, the activity of vaccines starts with a rapid and local innate response depending on the route of administration.
It is our responsibility to search for and choose the right tools to deal with coccidiosis in poultry with current consumer preferences tending towards the purchase of products from livestock grown using sustainable methods.
Because of worldwide concern about drug resistance associated with the immoderate use of antibiotics in poultry production, there has been a major effort to find alternative treatment and methods of prevention.
One of the most worrying problems in poultry production is coccidiosis and how to deal with it without using antibiotics. It is a challenge that, we know, lies in prevention. Furthermore, it is impossible to think in terms of prevention and not to link this to sustainable action.
Depending on the type of production or government rules relating to antibiotic-free product labelling and trade, there will be restrictions on the use of certain products, especially for the treatment of infections or coccidiosis control. Sick flocks should be treated or sacrificed, in order to comply with welfare regulations.
The meaning of antibiotic free products can cause some confusion, mainly because there is no official or international accepted description of what it is and how to classify different types of “antibiotic-free” products or production. Further complications come with anticoccidials for prevention of coccidiosis in poultry. In fact, in some countries they are classified as antimicrobials and as such they have to be withdrawn from “antibiotic-free” productions.
Prevention of coccidiosis in chickens with live vaccines means suspending the use of anticoccidials, but a reduction in other antibiotics has also been observed. Reduction in antibiotic use in animal production is currently one of the aims of the poultry industry. Antimicrobial resistance has become a global public health problem in humans and livestock and plans to reduce the use of antibiotics are being implemented by the authorities in most countries.
Obviously, chemicals and ionophores used to control coccidiosis should be considered as antibiotics because the parasites that are intended to be controlled with these products can develop resistance with prolonged use of these substances.
The fight against coccidiosis in chickens means the adoption of different strategies depending of the type of bird. If we are managing long life cycle birds, we have to pay special attention to clinical Eimeria species that are able to generate a real coccidiosis process with macroscopic lesions and symptoms that will reduce the healthy status of the birds and will compromise the development of immunity against other diseases or cause the death of the birds.
However, when we are rearing standard, certified or even free-range broilers, the focus needs to be a different one. In these cases it will be difficult to find real clinical coccidiosis. Otherwise, the “silent” species – such as Eimeria praecox among others – will affect the intestinal mucosa and will reduce the capacity of a broiler for nutrient absorption. Dealing with subclinical species is essential in coccidiosis in chickens with a high growth rate.