Probiotics: A natural solution to NE in broilers

Necrotic Enteritis (NE) is a potential catastrophe for broiler production. Nutritional solutions can help, in particular the supplementation of probiotics. Find out here how it works.

Diseases often mean economic losses for broiler producers, especially when they go undetected for long periods of time. Necrotic Enteritis (NE) is among the most serious diseases affecting broilers and a common driver of increased production costs. NE is a very common infection of the gastrointestinal tract caused by the toxin-producing pathogen Clostridium perfringens. The toxins produced by this microorganism damage the intestinal wall, impairing villi functionality and architecture, which reduces their capacity to absorb nutrients. NE can be catastrophic for producers, especially in its clinical form where the level of infection is severe and may result in high mortality, even in the absence of other symptoms. Sub-clinical NE should also be taken into account as it leads to a slow but steady growth rate reduction and an increase in feed and treatment costs. The occurrence and severity of NE outbreaks depend on the presence of predisposing factors that trigger overgrowth of toxin-producing strains of C. perfringens in the intestinal tract of the chicken. The most commonly recognised predisposing factors for NE are: coccidiosis infection, dysbiosis, high dietary levels of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP), indigestible protein, among others.

Probiotics for a healthy, stable gut flora

The use of antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) used to be a standard practice in the broiler industry. Besides increasing weight gain in broiler chickens, AGPs also controlled the occurrence of NE. However, the decision to ban AGPs made in 2006 by the European Union ultimately led to an increase in the frequency of NE outbreaks. Consequently, additional efforts have been undertaken to find new strategies to overcome this disease. Probiotics are naturally occurring, harmless bacteria that can be supplemented to animals to improve their gastrointestinal activity. By boosting digestive enzyme production, probiotics enhance nutrient absorption and broiler growth rate. Probiotics modulate the intestinal microbiota and can effectively promote intestinal integrity. A number of studies showed that supplementing probiotics to chickens reduced the negative effects of C. perfringens challenge. In particular, the Bacillus licheniformis based probiotic GalliPro® Tect (hereafter called probiotic) has been successfully used as an alternative to antibiotics.

Results of broiler trial

A zootechnical trial showed that broilers supplemented with the probiotic had 20% lower mortality rate compared with non supplemented broilers when both groups were artificially challenged with C. perfringens. Results from a second controlled study showed a reduction of 30% in the NE lesion score of broilers after 21 days of supplementation with the probiotic. Another trial showed that NE lesion scores were 46% lower in groups of broilers supplemented with the probiotic for 21 days when compared with control groups (non-supplemented). Moreover, after 42 days of feed supplementation, NE lesion scores were 82% lower in supplemented broilers than in non-supplemented ones (Figure 1).

Bacillus licheniformis-based probiotic

NE is a heavy burden on broiler production, causing economic damages of US$ 2 billion every year. GalliPro® Tect probiotic is a natural feed supplement that can greatly decrease such economic losses by improving the gut microbial balance and the overall health of the gastrointestinal tract. It helps to reduce the impact of predisposing factors that trigger C. perfringens infections, which consequently leads to higher production efficiency, improved animal health, and reduced treatment costs.

About Chr. Hansen

Chr. Hansen is a global bioscience company that develops natural solutions for the food, nutritional, pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. As a company it aims to deliver innovative natural solutions that advance food, health and productivity for the benefit of us all. All solutions are based on strong research and development competencies coupled with significant technology investments and close customer relationships. Chr. Hansen is the owner of one of the world’s largest commercial collections of bacteria, numbering almost 40,000 strains. From this collection bacteria are screened, selected and improved to meet specific requirements in food, dietary supplement, animal feed and plant protection.