A good start to achieve a strong finish

The immediate post-hatching period is critical for chick development and ultimately, chick performance. Integrating nutrition, farm management and gut health can optimize chick performance, even when suboptimal conditions threaten production potential.


Just as Olympic athletes begin their training early in life, successful poultry producers also rely on solid start to achieve a strong finish but unlike human champions, achieving outstanding poultry performance starts much earlier in the hours and days post hatch.

A strong start begins with achieving baseline quality metrics. Measuring day-old chick (DOC) parameters such as weigh length, uniformity, navel quality and activity  helps to optimize both broiler and layer production systems. These metrics serve as good predictive value indicators for first-Week performance and provide feedback on hatchery procedures and parent stock health to incremental improve chick quality.

Within 24 hours of hatching, Enterobacteria and streptococci colonise the bird’s caeca and expand to the rest of the  intestinal tract.  While the basic process of intestinal tract colonisation takes about three days, shifts and developments in the microbiome continue until well after two weeks of age. Developmental processes In  the bird that build a healthy and functional microbiome  encounter external and internal threats.  For example, the first   exposure to avian pathogenic Escherichia coli (APEC) typically occurs in the hatchery and can potentially lead to high first-week mortality.

Functional diets for young birds

The first few days of poultry production traditionally focus on technical management. Which is widely recognized as the basis for a good start. In addition to technical management the practice of providing specially designed feed formulas for young animals, containing high quality raw materials and a tailored package of feed additives, is rapidly gaining in popularity. Young animal nutrition draws on the synergy between multiple modes of action uncovered by poultry scientists, to improve animal performance and reduce the need for antibiotics. A broad-spectrurn approach includes improving chicks’ gut integrity, actively steering gut microbiome development, safeguarding against (clinical and subclinical) mycotoxin and endotoxin exposure and efficient enhancing digestion.

Mode of action drives benefits

Organic acids have long been used In feed and water to reduce or even eliminate pathogens before uptake by the animal and support processes in the gut. In young animals, gastric acid production does not always keep up with growth and development.  Suboptimal nutrient digestion related to higher gizzard pH and subsequent absorption challenges provide a good opportunity for organic acids to help lower the pH in the upper part of the digestive tract. Furthermore, both short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs)may act as antimicrobial agents in the animal. These offer both direct bacteriostatic or bactericidal effects and  indirect benefits (by stimulating ‘good’ bacteria at the expense of pathogens or through acidification of the bacterial environment and decreasing colonization potential). Additionally synergistic beneficial effects between SCFAs and MCFAs have been  reported. Developed by Trouw Nutrition, Selacid Green Growth is a blend of free and buffered SCFAs combined with MCFAs. This functional feed additive has been shown to leverage the combined synergistic effects of Ingredients to safe­guard performance and deliver improved mechanisms to aid digestion and help manage gut health challenges.

Performance validated globally

An independent validation trial in the United Kingdom showed that this synergistic blend of SCFA and MCFA ingredients helped a broiler flock reared without any antibiotics achieve an impressive recovery following a troubled first week with a relative high mortality.

(Table 1).A higher  number of microbial genera has repeatedly been associated with greater gut health resilience and better livestock performance. Specific bacterial genera play different roles in the gastro-   intestinal tract, such as generating compounds for digestive support, strengthening gut-wall integrity, developing host-defense mechanisms and reducing the colonisation of harmful bacteria through competitive exclusion.  Different types of feed additives have demonstrated modes of action to help build or maintain a stable microbiome. Even at low levels, combinations of additives create synergies which contribute to improved efficiency.

Presan -FY a combination of organic acids, medium chain fatty acids, slow release C12, target release butyrates and an encapsulated capsicum extract has been shown to be effective in increasing microbial diversity in broilers. A trial in Spain evaluated the pyrosequencing profile of the microbial community in broiler jejunum and showed that Presan-FY increased microbiota diversity by 22%. In India broilers fed Presan-FY in a trial had significantly reduced Escherichia coli counts while Clostridia tended to be reduced during the first three weeks of life. The findings indicated that the blend of ingredients is  effective  in helping birds maintain a stable microbiota across various production phases .While broilers are commonly used as models to study the effect of various feed additives, research indicates that the benefits of feed additives extend to pullets, layers and broiler, breeders, as well.

Improved performance equal to AGPs

An Australian study showed that Selacid Green Growth alleviated the impact of clostridium perfringens and Eimeria (coccidiosis) Challenges, delivering equal performance with an antibiotic growth promoter (AGP). These findings further illustrate the potential of specialized organic acid blends, Even   in antibiotic-free production environments. An early start to a healthy microbiome translates into improved performance throughout production. Another external validation trial demonstrated that FCR can significantly improve in Closridium spp. and Eimeria spp.- challenged broilers fed this  synergistic combination of organic acids, medium chain fatty acids, slow release C12, target release butyrates and an encapsulated capsicum extract, compared to broilers fed a standard diet without any AGPs {Figure 1}

Gold standard

Whether on the Olympic podium or on the poultry farm, a strong performance begins early. Together with the  best possible technical and veterinary management, specialized high quality feeds containing blends of synergistic feed additives are becoming the gold standard for poultry production globally.

Reference available on request.