Coccidiosis is a well-known and very well documented problem in the poultry production in terms of the causative agent, the ethyology and symptomatology. Obviously the question arises: why do we struggle to really control this problem we know all about? Inevitably all birds will contact it at one point of their short production life. And the key word is “short”. Due to the very short production life and many factors affecting performance negatively, it´s like everything in the poultry farm is trying to give us a hard time to raise these broilers efficiently and economically.
Clinical or subclinical manifestation of the disease makes the difference
The different bacterial, viral or parasite-caused diseases cost the poultry producers millions every year and the composition of this cost is the sum of the cost of the medication that is used to treat the animals, the loss of performance during the disease and the extra work that is needed to take care of the sick animals. This in case the disease is clinical, meaning we can actually see that the birds are sick, but many times, also the case in coccidiosis, the animals don´t really show signs of disease only at the last point we observe a lack in top performance. Adding on top of this the short production life in broilers, who will not be able to compensate for the loss, the monetary loss is going to be taken out from the pocket of the farmer. And who can afford nowadays with all the high energy and feed prices to lose time and money due to subclinical or even clinical manifestation of disease?
Feed additives as the solution
The power of shifting the financial balance towards a more profitable poultry production, lays quite often in the power of the feed additives. Majority of them are well studied with clear modes of action well positioned for the different problems that the animals are facing and in many cases with a very complex synergistic effect in the animal. This means, that if the animal is already performing good, we squeeze a bit more out, and we can have that bit more just due to the subclinical evolution of many diseases. Take the example of coccidiosis: We all know the medication that is used in coccidiosis prevention and treatment, being the ionophores, the chemicals and the vaccines, and that’s it. In the last 50 plus years no new medication has been identified to work against coccidia. Unlucky for the broiler, coccidia are able to develop resistance to drugs used to treat coccidiosis, and they are able to develop resistance faster and faster in time, very similar to antimicrobial resistance in bacteria. The antimicrobial resistance of bacteria receives a big amount of attention and, many funds have been created to tackle this problem with feed additives in the front end of the solution. Not so much in case of the coccidia resistance to the treatment drugs. We need to shift the attention also towards the feed additives. Thanks to many feed additive companies, significant amount of money and time has been invested in finding, researching and bringing new products on the market mitigating in a way or the other the negative impacts of coccidiosis.
We can always learn from nature
Nature usually has a solution, that is why many products on the market working on coccidia mitigation are plant based, bringing in what nature does best: adapt, protect and survive. Clearly it has been identified that plant-saponins have direct anti-protozoal effectivity by binding to the membrane cholesterol of protozoan cells and impairing the development of the parasite. This is just one of the substances, others for example natural phenolics, flavonoids, terpenoids, alkaloids and carotenoids work to strengthen the bird’s natural immunity giving the bird the possibility to actually protect itself from the intruding pathogenic agent, reduce its cellular oxidative stress and the negative impacts related to oxidative stress and mitigating the inflammatory responses, making sure that they are not tilting the energy balance towards a more costly over-expressed immune response from the animal side. The synergistic effect of a complex composition containing more than just one active substance, will bring the difference in how the bird will be able to cope in a coccidia challenge.
The power of time
Besides the direct or in-direct effect that a complex natural product can have on coccidia, it can give something else, something very important in coccidia management, and this is time. Any coccidiosis mitigation program is meant to buy time for the chicken to develop immunity. This includes the use of vaccines and ionophores where the reduction of pathology safeguards the performance of the animal, but the ‘leaking of coccidiosis replication’ requires the animal to build immunity. The exception on the immunity building principle might be the curative treatment with chemicals, but here we know the rapid building of resistance is limiting the usage of the products drastically. The less time we use a chemical or a ionophore, the lower the chances for coccidia developing resistance to this active substance, and the better results the treatment with that active substance will have, now and in the future. This is exactly the principle of the shuttle and rotation programs in coccidial management. Giving time to anticoccidial drugs to rest, so that the resistance build up in the coccidia is decreasing. So how does a natural solution give us time? Including it in the shuttle or rotation programs (Figure 1). During the time the natural solution is part of the shuttle or rotation program, other anticoccidial treatments don´t have to be used so, they are “resting” and restoring efficacy for later usage.
Fig. 1: Options of including natural products in the shuttle program.
How much time we can actually buy depends on the severity of the coccidia situation on farm. If the coccidial pressure is low we can have a broader application of the natural solution, or in opposite, when the pressure is very big we can actually use it combined with the anti-coccidial treatment to have a better result. In any case, we at Innovad®, are happy to support you in creating the best anti-coccidial plan including natural solutions like Aflocox® to maximize the success of the anti-coccidial management programs.