Bacterial Multi-resistance: What is and how to avoid it for the sake of public health11/08/2021
Post-hatching: critical points that affect the initial development of chickens24/09/2021
How much are we willing to have daily losses in any business? We hardly can reach an acceptable number when we are talking about financial losses in our production. Practically, as in all sectors, those who work with broilers, layers hens and breeding chickens also have goals to reach. If established indexes are not met, results can be very unsatisfactory.
And this is directly related to health of poultry flocks. There are several premises we know we should follow to avoid them to be affected by diseases. Among them, a premise is following the four pillars of poultry production:
To date, we may be dealing with this issue generically. So, I will include an incitement: all these cares are essential, this is a fact. However, if we do not start looking very carefully at all critical points affecting quality of chicks before their birth, including processes and even previous generations, we will inevitably be obliged to make more complex decisions when pathogenic agents appear. These decisions can involve losing part of production, or treating it with antibiotics, which offer an immediate solution, but contribute to the maintenance of low quality chicks — we remind that one of the main currently problems in poultry farms is initial mortality due to omphalitis — and for anti-microbial resistance (which have already been covered here), a very relevant problem to public health.
What should we do to avoid this scenario? We should take preventive measures starting in the pre-hatching period. I will provide more details below.
Why should we be careful during pre-hatching?
The one-day old chick has all genetic characteristics of its line and conditions where it was incubated. In other words: it is a reflex of incubation, production system of broiler breeders, management of rearing phase of these breeders and a reflex of the 1-day old breeder generating it. And you may be questioning: but, even after all this chain, will the chick be affected by the manner its parent or grandparent was raised? The answer is YES.
And how do we reverse this question? Where do we start? In a recent training for an in-house team of Biocamp representatives, I gathered some of the paths for it and I will tell below. One of them is: understanding the importance of poultry cloaca.
For 150 million years, eggs come out of this organ. Therefore, if we need to reduce the presence of pathogenic or opportunist bacteria on the egg shell, it is very important to set mechanisms to decrease its presence or concentration in the digestive tube of the poultries.
A poultry cloaca has multiple functions and belongs to three systems: digestive, urinary excretory and reproductive. It means that saprophytic, opportunist or pathogenic agents present in any of the segments of these systems can reach it and, then, contaminate any egg structure: yolk, egg white, internal or external membrane, and egg shell.
What action should we take from this finding? Should we start treatments to inhibit the diseases? My advice is to analyze before acting.
There is a very interesting article published in 2019 at Nature magazine, whose objective was to characterize the microbial community in the reproductive tract of chickens and to determine the origin of intestinal microbiome of the embryos.
The paper shows the variety of saprophytic bacteria that are in the oviduct, cloaca, egg shell, egg white and in the embryo. The question is that, in a balance situation, its presence brings benefit to the chicken.
Example of bacteria with a beneficial presence
Other example of the beneficial presence of bacteria is E. coli in the lower intestinal tract, which inhibits the growth of other bacteria, such as Salmonella. The last edition of Diseases of Poultry (2020) showed that in normal poultries, between 10 to 15% of intestinal coliform can belong to potentially pathogenic serotype. E. coli in intestinal tract consists, therefore, of a reservoir of virulence factors and anti-microbial resistance. And what should be done? Nothing! Trying to destroy them with the use of antibiotics is also to reduce the other 85% which are not pathogens.
The same publication also mentions the population of C. perfringens, which is always present in the small intestine of healthy poultries. Even in high quantities, it is not enough to produce Necrotic Enteritis, causing some problem in the digestive tract only when reaching high levels, which only happens, for example, with challenges by coccidiosis, high diets with crude protein (CP) and non?starch polysaccharides (NSPs) which retard the peristalsis and favor bacterial adhesion to enterocytes. Correcting any of these factors, it is possible to avoid the problem to occur.
Use of antimicrobials
When there is a frequent preventive and/or indiscriminate use of antibiotics in the breeder flock to reduce the pathogenic bacteria, it is possible that some productive losses are reduced. However, it generates a potentially greater problem: i) unbalance of intestinal microbiome (dysbiosis) and ii) creating favorable conditions for selection of resistant bacteria.
Generally, the main poultry pathologies and other conditions, which more frequently affect breeding poultries, subject to treatment with antimicrobials (AMCs) – or where its use is practiced preventively and frequently – are:
- Enteric problems caused by C. perfringens or C. colinum, associated or not to coccidiosis;
- Colonization of digestive tract of breeding stock by paratyphoid Salmonella, vertically transmitted to its progeny.
- Omphalitis (one-day old chicks) and “exploders” (in hatcheries), contaminated generally by bacteria, opportunist or not, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and/or Escherichia coli (APEC);
- Respiratory syndrome in poultries.
When it happens, antibiotics reduce the presence of saprophytic bacteria favoring the increase of level, concentration and intensity of pathogenic bacteria.
That is why breeders flocks need more attention and control in pre-hatching period: so that there is no loss of 0.5 to 1% of the flock already in the first day and so that further chicks, after treatment, are not only “survivors to process”.
The role of professionals in the segment
It is the responsibility of the professionals of the segment to defend a new manner to focus on productivity and management of costs without sacrificing sanitary issues and – more importantly! – without promoting multiresistant bacteria.
To give you an idea, 50% of European chickens are contaminated by antibiotic-resistant pathogens* and 35% contain antibiotic-resistant pathogens important to public health.
World Health Organization (WHO) has already made an alert: in 2050 there will be more people dying from infections by antibiotic-multiresistant bacteria than from other diseases. Apparently, according to studies, this will be the next “pandemic” we will live.
It will be a health problem which can kill up to 10 million people in 30 years. But, in contrast to Covid-19 pandemic, which has taken everybody by surprise, there still time to act and change this scenario.
How to change the multi-drug resistant bacteria scenario
In times when programs such as ESG (environment, social and corporate governance) are more and more evident and are already a requirement of our market, those which do not suit these issues will have difficulties to place their products, and even, to disappear.
For this reason, we need to adopt new policies and think about tools which are effective, interesting and able to modulate intestinal microbiome to not make bacteria so resistant.
Probiotics are one of the ways for it. Probiotic bacteria of one or more species make colonization still in breeders flocks and pre-hatching period and help to reduce growth of pathogenic ones which can cause diseases. Customers who have already adopted the initiative have pointed out an increased productivity and decreased costs – specially with medication.
While we definitely do not decide to amplify the use of probiotics in rearing phase and production of breeders, whether they are parents or grandparents, we will continue favoring this chain. And broiler chickens should also undergo the same process.
What future do you want for your business?
Paulo Martins is Technical and Commercial Manager at Biocamp