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status. They combine best management practices in water, feed and health management with specific product treatments. The starting point has to be a focus on animal health per se and

reducing the risk of pathogenic challenges. Factors such as stocking density, temperature and relative humidity and ventilation will all have a direct influence on the levels of pathogenic bacteria. In addition, they can all contribute to physiological stress and inflammation, which can disrupt the mucosal barrier in the gut, leading to impaired gut function and a detrimental shift in microbial balance. Biosecurity is another key area where strict protocols and management can help reduce the risk of enteric problems. Operating all in: all out systems with thorough cleaning and disinfection can help ensure new intakes of animals enter the best possible environment. Additionally, control of vermin and visitors can help maintain a desirable environment. Water and feed hygiene and safety are the other central pillars to our programme. Water is an often overlooked nutrient, but its quality can have

a significant impact on performance. It is essential to understand the quality of water in terms of mineral content, hardness, pH and pathogenic load. Reducing the pH of the water can help digestion and also improve microbial balance in the gut. Quantifying and improving the quality of water should be a priority on all units. Treatment of water with Selko®

pH, a synergistic, partially buffered

blend of organic acids has two benefits. Not only can it support digestion by lowering the pH of the drinking water and consequentially the crop and stomach, but the buffered acids also help to improve microbial balance in the intestine Feed is the final key area. Producers should challenge their feed

supplier about the processes taken to ensure all feed delivered meets high hygiene standards. Once delivered, feed management needs to focus on maintaining quality, and preventing spoilage. Ensure feed bins and delivery systems are regularly disinfected and protected from vermin. Treatment of feeds with Fysal®

a sophisticated blend of free and

buffered organic acids with specific and targeted antimicrobial effects can reduce pathogenic bacteria.

Feed composition can also play a role in improving gut health. For

example, undigested protein can act as a substrate of bacterial growth. Therefore, providing only the required level of protein, using more digestible protein sources and amino acids can reduce the incidence of diarrhoea in piglets and wet litter in broilers. The inclusion of specific fibres or larger particles can promote improved peristalsis, contributing to the prevention of gastrointestinal infections. The effectiveness of a strategic approach to the removal of

prophylactic antibiotics is being demonstrated in numerous trials. A study of data from Germany, involving over 40 million broilers from 11 commercial broiler units over five years showed it was possible to reduce antibiotic usage by 59%, cut mortality by 28% and improve FCR by 5.3% (see graphs). The trial involved the farms assessing management and setting

best practice targets for all areas of farm, feed and health management including biosecurity, health care, climate control and nutrition. Part of this strategy was to include several feed and water additives. Faced with the enormous challenge of reducing antibiotic usage

on pig and poultry units, integrated management programmes could offer a cost-effective way to meet the usage targets set by Government while demonstrating a willingness to work with consumers.


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