Modified Feed Plan for Vaccinated Broilers Saves Producers Money, Improves Results

US - Poultry producers vaccinating broilers against coccidiosis can save money and get better vaccine results by changing their nutrition program, says a poultry veterinarian and independent nutritional consultant.
calendar icon 23 February 2005
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Reaping Rewards

More farms are switching to vaccination for control of coccidiosis, but not all of them have updated their nutrition programs, Dr. José Ignacio Barragan of Spain said at a recent seminar at the 2005 International Poultry Expo.

“It’s still a habit in the industry to feed a withdrawal diet for only the last 5 or 6 days. This practice was designed to coincide with the withdrawal time for growth-promoters and anticoccidials, which are becoming passé due to increased public concern about the use of in-feed drugs,” he explained.

Producers now vaccinating against coccidiosis instead of using traditional in-feed anticoccidials can reduce feed costs and better utilize the immunity obtained with the vaccine by modifying their nutrition plan, Barragan said.

“Several studies have shown that when producing chickens that are from 4.85 lbs to 5 lbs (2.2 kg to 2.3 kg) or higher in bodyweight, the withdrawal diet in birds vaccinated for coccidiosis can be extended without detrimental effects and with considerable cost savings.

“There is no difference in carcass quality or in the proportion of premium parts,” he said.

Focus on early life

In vaccinated birds, emphasis needs to be placed on good nutrition that promotes healthy intestinal development early in life, Barragan said. For instance, starter feed should have fine and short granules. Corn is better than “white cereals,” such as wheat and barley, and the total protein level should be limited, he said.

The second stage feed, for birds 15 to 30 days of age, should also promote good intestinal health. “This is when chickens experience progressive fluctuations of the intestinal bacterial population, when coccidial challenges arise and there may be more clostridial problems,” Barragan said.

Cereals should be highly digestible. Feed should be of high quality and the enzyme dosage guaranteed. Dietary fat likewise should be of high quality. “The source is not as important as digestibility,” he said.

Protein levels must be adjusted to needs, and excess protein should be avoided because it can contribute to the growth of undesirable bacteria and make colonization of beneficial bacteria more difficult, he said.

Soy should not be the only protein source. “Synthetic amino acids are better, and this is the ideal time to use AGP alternatives such as probiotics or organic acids,” Barragan said.

Late development ‘smooth’

This dietary approach, coupled with good management such as control of wet litter and proper temperature and lighting, will produce birds that by 30 days of age have well established immunity against Eimeria, the organism that causes coccidiosis. Because late development is smooth, producers can lengthen the time that withdrawal feed is provided, he said.

“The only concern left by extending the finishing feed might be an increased risk for coccidiosis — but in coccidiosis-vaccinated birds, that risk is practically zero,” Barragan noted.

Dr. Rick Phillips, technical services director for the poultry business unit of Schering-Plough Animal Health Corporation, which makes Coccivac®-B and Paracox®-5 coccidiosis vaccines for broilers, presented a concept called “IDEA” that gave more specifics on the type of nutrition plan recommended by Barragan.

IDEA stands for “Impulse, Digestibility, Economy and Advance” and is a concept that maximizes intestinal health and performance in broilers, he said. It is based on the immunology and physiology of the modern broilers, yet is “simple and innovative.” Phillips and his colleague, Dr. Delair Bolis of Portugal, showed data that birds vaccinated with Coccivac-B or Paracox-5 perform as well as or better than birds receiving traditional in-feed anticoccidials and that use of the IDEA nutritional plan can further boost performance.

“The implementation of this new concept of production represents an advancement in traditional thinking with respect to the manipulation of immunization, management and nutrition to help improve overall flock performance,” Phillips said.

For more information on improving intestinal health, go to or call 1-800-219-9286 (US) or your local Schering-Plough Animal Health subsidiary.

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