BCO lameness: Antibiotics-free solutions
BCO lameness is a problem wherever modern broilers are grown. It is a common cause of lameness in the US and Europe, typically affecting 1.5% of broilers grown starting at around 30 days of age. In Asia, the incidence of BCO may be lower at around 1%, as production cycles tend to be shorter, though subclinical issues and mortality do occur. BCO can also contribute to product quality issues, e.g. consumers reject product where the white cap of articular cartilage separates from the femur head.
BCO may be present and negatively influence flock performance and health even though it is not recognized as such. Prof Robert Wideman of the University of Arkansas, cited an example of a country he visited where multiple individuals claimed that BCO was not a problem locally. However, it turned out that 40% of the mortality in broilers domestically were being culled due to lameness caused by bacterial chondronecrosis with osteomyelitis. Producers should be diligent: “In my opinion, wherever broilers are being grown, this [BCO] is going to be a problem – an important problem,” stated Dr Wideman.
A BCO ‘epidemic’ outbreak can affect over 15% of a flock. It can be described as a metabolic disease, in that it becomes most severe in the fastest growing flocks.
Non-antibiotic solutions are increasingly relevant
From what we know of the pathogenesis of BCO, pathogenic bacteria (e.g. Staphylococcus spp., Enterococcus spp. and even E. coli) harboured in the gut gradually leak through the intestinal epithelium, make their way into the circulation and trigger the infections. Hence, the primary focus is to improve intestinal health and barrier function to protect against bacterial translocation responsible for BCO.
Until recently, antibiotics were the method of choice to treat BCO lameness. However, an antibiotic treatment will not be effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria or during the withdrawal period. Also, given the increasing need to reduce the use of antibiotics in animal production, antibiotic-free solutions are essential.
During a recent webinar on the topic of BCO lameness, Prof Wideman presented results of five experiments with four broiler lines conducted over the course of two years showing how one probiotic product was effective in reducing the incidence of BCO lameness. Yet, in two experiments under similar conditions with another probiotic, there was negligible response from the other product in terms of reducing BCO. While the second probiotic may have had some beneficial use in gut performance, it did not protect against bacterial translocation.
Extensive research has identified three types beneficial bacteria that act as drivers of good gut health in poultry, each inhabiting various parts of the gastrointestinal tract:
1. Enterococcus sp. originating in the jejunum 2. Bifidobacterium sp. originating in the ileum, and 3. Lactobacillus spp. originating in the cecum.
They act to competitively exclude harmful bacteria in the gut, prime the immune system and create a proper environment for beneficial microflora.
All three strains are found in Poultrystar® – a well-defined, poultry-specific, multi-species symbiotic product developed by BIOMIN that is the only one of its kind with EU authorisation.
For more information, contact Albert Van Rensburg and his team at Biomin South Africa: Tel: +27 (0)18 468 1455 / +27 (0)18 468 1456 Mobile: +27 (0)834095315 E-mail: email@example.com www.biomin.net