COCCI Profile: Long-Range Planning
New tools and strategies are helping Wayne Farms to better manage coccidiosis while optimizing both product and bird performance
Wayne nutritionist John Halley (left) with vets Don Waldrip and Marshall Putnam: ‘We’ve totally changed our approach to coccidiosis control.’
Managing coccidiosis in poultry
used to be a no-brainer.
Simply pick the feed additives
that work best in your operation and
rotate or shuttle them for maximum
performance and return.
“Ten years ago or so, we used to look at our anticoccidial usage on a 6- month basis. Now we’re looking 2 or 3 years down the road,” says Don Waldrip, DVM, director of animal health for Wayne Farms LLC, based in Oakwood, Ga. “Coccidiosis management is a lot more complicated today,” he adds. “You need to position certain anticoccidials by time of year, by length of usage, by loss of sensitivity and other factors. The decision-making process on the use of coccidiostats has become more involved. Deciding which anticoccidial to use and what frequency is increasingly more important.”
The process is particularly challenging at a large operation like Wayne Farms, which every week processes some 5 million large birds — mostly 7 to 7.4 pounds — from eight integrated facilities in six states. Wayne is now the sixth largest vertically integrated processor in the United States.
Waldrip sees the growing complexity of
coccidiosis management as a sign of
progress against the costly, tenacious
and ubiquitous protozoan disease that
continues to challenge poultry operations
“We used salinomycin for a long, long time,” adds William Elrod, live production manager at the company’s Pendergrass complex. “So when we went over to some of the other management options available, we got a significant boost in performance. It really changed our whole philosophy on coccidiosis management.”
In the United States, Clinacox™ (diclazuril) — a new-generation synthetic anticoccidial that is in a different chemical family than other in-feed treatments — is now letting many US poultry operations clean up houses infected by resistant wild strains of the Eimeria parasite while boosting feed efficiency an average of 5 points. Looking to optimizing use of salinomycin and other ionophores, Wayne and many other progressive poultry operations are also vaccinating for coccidiosis instead of leaning entirely on in-feed anticoccidials.
The poultry industry is developing a better understanding of how to juggle anticoccidial products for maximum effectiveness. Research at the USDA, for example, has shown that vaccinating with Coccivac®-B, a live-oocyst vaccine administered to day-old chicks in the hatchery, renews the sensitivity of an on-farm coccidial population to the ionophore salinomycin.
Working through Schering-Plough Animal Health and Greg Mathis, PhD, of Southern Poultry Research, Inc., in Athens, Ga., Wayne is now monitoring sensitivities to Eimeria organisms from the litter of its more than 2,500 houses.
Proactive, not reactive
“We’ve totally changed our approach to
coccidiosis control, from one of using
ionophore leakage to develop immunity
to a more performance-driven
scheme where leakage is not as important,”
explains Marshall Putnam, DVM,
director of poultry health at Wayne.
“We’re taking a fuller, more integrated, proactive approach to coccidiosis control,” he adds, “rather than a reactionary approach, where you post birds only when you’re not satisfied with the feed conversion and then decide to change the control program.”
In a perfect world, Waldrip and Putnam say they’d devise a set rotation using all types of anticoccidials — vaccines, chemicals, ionophores — for their more than 2,500 houses to follow. But variances in temperatures, moisture levels and other factors make it impossible to implement a rigid, universal program, especially for an operation spread over six states.
“With coccidiosis, you have to consider all your options and address it with a long-range attack plan,” Waldrip says. “At the same time, you still need to remain flexible to address the unique circumstances of each farm. The additional tools we have available today help us accomplish that while maintaining good performance.”
Over the past 2 to 3 years, the biggest change to Wayne’s strategy has been the use of vaccination for at least three cycles in about 40% of its facilities. Wayne first used Coccivac at its operation in Laurel, Miss., where hot, humid summers traditionally intensify coccidiosis pressure.
Wayne now uses Clinacox — either in
the starter and grower feeds for one
cycle or in the grower cycle only for
two cycles — to provide a foundation
for its coccidiosis program. The operation
then switches to Coccivac for three
cycles or more in most cases.
Not wanting to lose the well-documented performance advantage of Clinacox, Wayne likes to leave at least 12 months between treatments — a goal that in reality “cycles out to 18 months or so, depending on where we’re at with our program,” Waldrip says.
No Hassles at the Feed Mill
From a logistics standpoint, Wayne’s feed mills didn’t have any problem with
incorporating the vaccine into their program.
The need to rest in-feed anticoccidials
has helped to fuel even more interest
in vaccination. For example, one of
Wayne’s complexes opted to forego
switching to an ionophore this past
winter and stay on Coccivac until
spring. One option would then be to
go to the ionophore and 3-Nitro
(arsenelic acid) for two cycles before
rotating to Clinacox during the summer.
After that, the plan is to go back to the
Going the distance
Bird performance isn’t exactly suffering
in the meantime.
“After five cycles with the vaccine, our Pendergrass [Georgia] complex hasn’t seen any downturn in performance,” Waldrip says. “In fact, for some reason, we find performance of vaccinated birds tends to get better with each successive cycle — possibly due to a shift in Eimeria populations.”
The only concern Waldrip has about vaccinating in winter is that some complexes may be tempted to hold birds in the partial house to save on heating costs — a situation that could expose them to higher concentrations of recycled oocysts.
“It really depends on the moisture level of the litter and weather conditions, but as a general rule, we like to see vaccinated birds turned out no later than 14 days,” he says. “If you do that and maintain a good facility with good ventilation and litter management, you shouldn’t have any problems using Coccivac year-round.”
Putnam agrees. “Good management is key to the success of any health program, whether it’s coccidiosis or any other poultry disease,” he adds. “Anyone who thinks they have to make a lot of changes in their program before using Coccivac has the cart before the
Maintaining Uniform Coverage and Protection
The development of new technology for
administering Coccivac has helped
Wayne seamlessly incorporate vaccination
into its coccidiosis-management program.
horse. If houses are not being managed
properly or if litter moisture levels are
too high, there is a possibility that any
coccidiosis program may fail. Good
house management is a prerequisite for
the use of any anticoccidial product.”
Balanced nutrition is also critical to flock health. But in Wayne’s case, switching to a coccidiosis vaccine didn’t require changing the company’s feed regimen.
“We raise large birds, some up to 7.5 pounds, so we tend to use a fairly dense nutrient package because we’re looking for yield,” says company nutritionist John Halley, PhD.
“If you’re raising smaller birds, you need to make sure the nutrients are there to maintain performance after vaccination. You need adequate levels of vitamins E and A, a sufficient crude protein level, and make sure that the amino acids are high.”
As good or better
Wayne keeps performance figures confidential,
but according to the technical
team at the company, vaccinating for
coccidiosis instead of using a feed additive
has helped to maintain or even
“We’ve used Coccivac in several locations for 2 or 3 years now and we can’t tell any significant difference in performance between vaccinated birds and those treated with an ionophore with 3-Nitro,” Halley says. “It’s been our experience that vaccinated birds perform as well or, in some cases, even better. The vaccine also lets us break up the use of the feed additives, so they’ll be more effective for us in the future.”
John Moore, broiler manager at Wayne’s Pendergrass facility, has heard similar reports from other complexes. “The vaccinated birds might start off a little slower, but they get over the initial reaction quickly and make up for lost time,” he says. “Our weights are the same or possibly better.”
Source: CocciForum Issue No.6, Schering-Plough Animal Health.