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Preventing pathogen ingression from feed to live bird production

Feedstuffs/Sarah Muirhead Oldnall EuroTier 22 resize.jpg
Need to focus on where, how to do interventions, and if they are cost-effective.

With peak feed prices, rising energy costs and one of the worst highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks across Europe and North America, Matt Oldnall, technical manager, Anitox, says strategies to prevent salmonella ingression and other pathogens in live bird production operations might not be top of mind right now, but can still impact a producer's bottom line.

"We still have other things we need to deal with such as salmonella in the EU which is still costing about $3 billion Euros on average to the healthcare system and then, clostridia perfringens, necrotic enteritis in flocks in production, been shown to be up to 37% in some flocks in the UK in subclinical, and its costing between $0.50 and a $1.50 (USD)," Oldnall says.

During his presentation, "Pathogen Ingression into the Feed Mill: Methodologies to Prevent Salmonella Ingression and Pathogen Impacts on Live Bird Production," at EuroTier this week in Hannover, Germany, Oldnall told the audience there are two ways pathogens can enter a poultry operation: novel and hub integration.

Where novel salmonella integration in a specific house on site does have some financial implications, Oldnall says a pathogen hub integration or vertical salmonella transmission can turn catastrophic quickly, be hard to overcome and create brand risk.

Feed itself is a fairly hostile fomite for pathogens to move into poultry operations, however Oldnall notes it is worth considering as a source of pathogen introduction, as traditional testing methods can often miss pathogens. Oldnall cites recent research by Nikki Shariat, assistant professor, University of Georgia, where the team examined whether salmonella-positive animal feed samples also consist of multiserovar populations.

Fifty salmonella-positive samples, collected from 10 countries, were cultured using three different media for salmonella isolation. The samples included 25 samples from feed ingredients, 13 from complete feed and 12 feed mill dust samples. Samples from pelleted overnight cultures were analyzed by CRISPR-SeroSeq to examine serovar populations in individual samples.

Overall, Shariat's team detected 12 different serogroups, with eight serovars belonging to the O:7 serogroup (C1). Fifty-six percent of the samples contained two or more serovars, with 11 serovars found in one sample. 

"You've got pathogens proliferating in different environments, so you might be having a pathogen that is causing salmonella or clostridium and you're not picking it up in feed because the traditional testing methodology is not picking it up but it is there, and as the pH in the gut changes, you start to allow the these bacterium to start developing," Oldnall says.

With the current economic climate, Oldnall says its important any intervention is cost-effective.

"We need to find places where we can almost get … a bang for our buck and we want to get as much out of that one intervention rather than 10 different ones," Oldnall says.

To improve feed safety, Oldnall says those interventions can happen during three critical points:

  • Prevention during raw material intake with organic acids and sourcing policies
  • Elimination through the manufacturing process, by incorporating a heat treatment program and adding feed sanitizers
  • Protection through finished feed/delivery with feed sanitizers and strong biosecurity programs

Producers also need to watch out for recontamination of feed while on farm to keep the feed clean until consumption, Oldnall says.

"If we look at it very simplistically the gastrointestinal tract is the easiest place for pathogen integration, it's an open hole and the bird will consume feed and water every day, so if you put a huge amount of bacterium into the bird, you're going to cause microbiome disturbances in the bird's gut," Oldnall says.

He highlights recent research Anitox conducted on healthy birds as well as challenged. By analyzing a "clean feed" or sanitized feed to a 16,000-herd broiler breed layer flock, they saw improvements such as 2.7% less mortalities, 2.38% reduction in feed consumption and an 84.5% decrease in bacterial contamination.

Even during the challenged broiler breeder study with necrotic enteritis, Oldnall says they saw statistical significant improvements in weight gain and feed conversion rate.

"We need to focus on where we do interventions, how we do interventions, and fundamentally the basics of do they pay," Oldnall says. "If we do those across different things, specifically feed, and how we can benefit a producer like that, you can negate the need for continually innovating. We're in an industry where we'll innovate faster than anything, but we're getting challenged more than anything."

TAGS: Poultry
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