Sanitation key to successful NAE production
The key to successful “no antibiotics ever” (NAE) broiler production is cleanliness throughout every step of production, including a pristine hatchery, Armando Mirande, DVM, a veterinarian with Miller Poultry, told Poultry Health Today.
Miller Poultry, headquartered in northern Indiana, has been raising broilers with no antibiotics for nearly 2 decades, said Mirande, who has been with the company for 5 years.
A common NAE production problem is coccidiosis, which affects 10% to 12% of flocks and leads to an average mortality of two to five birds per thousand. Miller usually sees lower mortality, but noted that on rare occasions, mortality from coccidiosis may be as high as eight to 10 birds per thousand.
Miller Poultry recently decided to use coccidiosis vaccines year-round instead of relying on in-feed non-ionophore anticoccidials. There’s some apprehension about exclusively using the vaccine in cooler weather, when there’s less ventilation and moisture builds up in barns.
The main issue with coccidiosis vaccines, Mirande continued, is whether vaccinal oocysts used to stimulate natural immunity will cause enough intestinal damage for clostridial bacteria to proliferate, leading to necrotic enteritis.
He emphasized there is no particular formula that works for everyone in NAE production. Each operation has its own individual challenges, and each veterinarian should decide what’s best for that company.
The decision to use antibiotics in either NAE or conventional production is dictated by the amount of mortality, and every company has a different threshold, Mirande continued. The veterinarian said he has worked for three large companies and each one has a different standard.
Some companies don’t start antibiotic treatment until there are at least 100 dead birds daily in a house, but if antibiotic use is intended to prevent animal suffering, Mirande believes treatment should start sooner.