Look at the Big Picture

Industry performance data show birds vaccinated with Coccivav-B perform as well as or better than other programs

You're considering adding a coccidiosis vaccine to your management program, but you're wondering how broiler performance will stack up against other strategies you've used.

Wonder no more.

Now, performance data from an industry reporting service in the United States show that when growers include Coccivac-B in their programs, they can achieve results equal or superior to other strategies.

In the study, performance of birds vaccinated with Coccivac-B for coccidiosis was compared to birds of similar weight that used standard anticoccidial The study ran from week 29 (mid- July) to week 43 (early November). Each week or "data point" in the accompanying figures represents the average of 19 to 23 vaccinated complexes versus 28 to 30 complexes that used standard in-feed anticoccidial programs. For complexes that used Coccivac-B, mean bird weights were 6.0 lbs at week 29 to 38, and 6.3 lbs at weeks 38 to 43.

How do birds compare?

Investigators first looked at how the performance of birds compared during the summer months, focusing specifically on live cost per pound of meat as well as calorie conversion.

Birds that received Coccivac-B - even though they had an average weight of about 6 lbs "performed better than similar-weight birds using standard anticoccidials. That was true even for birds on standard anticoccidials that weighed 5.2 to 6.0 lbs or greater than 6 lbs.

During cooler fall weather, performance for all classes of birds picked up, partly due to reduced stress from the hot weather. Performance for birds that were vaccinated with Coccivac-B was, again, superior to the overall industry average.

Dr. Rick Phillips, director of worldwide poultry technical services for Schering-Plough Animal Health, says it's also important to keep in mind that hot weather continues to exert a major impact on performance, regardless of whether birds are vaccinated with Coccivac-B or on standard in-feed anticoccidials, or whether they are housed in traditional growing environments or housed in modern environmentally controlled houses.

Think long-term

These new data, he stresses, give direct-line comparisons at the same time against variable programs. "It shows that Coccivac-B is equal to or superior to those traditional programs, even though the numbers might not be quite as good in the summertime as in the fall. That's only natural, due to the heat, the humidity and major temperature fluctuations."

Phillips stresses also that in terms of optimizing control of coccidiosis, integrators would do well to think longterm, rather than confining their focus to immediate needs or concerns.

"We feel strongly that integrators can often improve long-term performance by using Coccivac-B in an annual program," he adds. "That can be a big help in renewing the sensitivity of the house coccidial population to the most effective anticoccidials."

Today's Rotation Strategies

The poultry industry is no stranger to rotating products for maximum performance. But with coccidiosis vaccination being used by most mainstream producers for at least a part of their program, the game plan has changed considerably.

The process generally starts with discontinuing a worn-out ionophore and using Clinacox (diclazuril) in the starter feed only, for one cycle. Clinacox zaps the wild strains of coccidia that have been brewing over the years and effectively cleans up the house.

In the following cycle, producers switch back to an ionophore for one cycle before rotating to Coccivac-B, a vaccine that uses a controlled, balanced dose of coccidia oocysts to stimulate natural immunity for the life of the bird. The vaccine is used for at least three cycles. Coccivac-B also seeds the house with an older generation of oocysts that are highly susceptible to salinomycin and other older anticoccidials.

After three or four cycles with the vaccine "a period when producers often see performance improvements in successive flocks "integrators have the option of either staying on the vaccine or switching back to an ionophore and starting the three-product rotation again. (See Figure 6).

"In a sense, using a live-oocyst vaccine is like putting an operation's coccidia populations in a time machine and sending them back in history more than 50 years," explains Dr. Rick Phillips, DVM, of Schering-Plough Animal Health Corporation. "After three or four cycles with the vaccine, the older ionophores act young again and do a much better job keeping coccidia in check "as long as they're not overused."

Source: CocciForum Issue No.8, Schering-Plough Animal Health.

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