The magic powder doesn’t exist

There are any problems with poultry rearing?

During the rearing cycle, chickens can experience different health problems. For what concern bacterial infections, in the very first period of life, one of the most common causes of chicken illness and death is omphalitis, often due to E. coli infections. In general, enteritis is among the first causes of money loss in poultry nowadays as it is caused by a number of different pathogens. The cited E. coli for example normally harbors animals’ intestine as part of the physiological microflora. In stressful conditions and when its environmental load is too high, it becomes pathogenic, causing enteritis, even severe. Meanwhile, poultry comes in contact with parasites like coccidia that disrupt intestinal mucosa integrity, predisposing them to bacterial infections. This is the case of necrotic enteritis etiology, caused by Clostridium perfringens, with Eimeria spp. as the most important predisposing factor. This pathology alone causes every year $6 billion loss worldwide. Another harmful enteric pathogen is Salmonella spp. with approximately 2600 serotypes, all potentially pathogenic. The largest part of severe infections and diseases are, however, caused by S. Typhimurium and S. Enteritidis both in poultry and humans.

Are AGP useful preventing bacterial infections?

Against bacterial infections, antibiotic treatment is often indicated as a therapeutic approach. In a preventive way, the inclusion of antibiotics in the daily diet can help to reduce bacterial load in the intestine, both pathogen and useful. On the other hand, the reduction in the microflora increases the amount of nutrients available for the host, causes the thinning of the intestinal wall with a consequent improvement of nutrient uptake, and reduces also toxins production by bacteria. AGP have also an anti-inflammatory effect lowering the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines by the host. So why are we globally reducing the use of these useful tools? Because of the harmful increase of antimicrobial resistance in numbers of pathogens that cause every year many severe diseases and loss of animals and production and also human untreatable infections. For this reason, an alternative is needed, that can improve the efficacy of AGP or replace them without the risk of the onset of bacterial resistance.

Can feed additives replace AGP?

The main effects of AGP are the lowering of intestinal microflora and inflammation: different feed additives have these same effects. For example, organic acids are commonly used as feed preservatives because of their antimicrobial and antifungal activity. They carry out their activity by passively entering the pathogen cell membrane (only if the molecule is not dissociated, so if it is not electrically charged). Once inside, the organic acid dissociates in an ionic and anionic part, causing the stop of the pathogen proliferation and its death. In fact, the lowering in pH caused by the ionic part of the molecule forced the bacterium to lose energy trying to restore its physiological status, while the anionic part is toxic for the nucleic acids, in different ways based on the organic acid molecule. Another example is monoterpenoids such as thymol and carvacrol that have a strong antimicrobial activity creating pores into the cell membrane, causing a lethal alteration of the physiological equilibrium of the bacterium. Nature identical compounds like these have a synergistic activity combined with organic acids: the latter enter the cell faster through the pores formed by the first. Moreover, organic acids and nature identical compounds, when used together, have also an anti-inflammatory action on the intestinal mucosa, so that this combination have an effect similar to  AGP. Anyway, these feed additives are completely destroyed or absorbed within the first part of the small intestine. AviPlus®P overcomes this problem thanks to its microencapsulation, that allow the specific combination of organic acids and nature identical compounds to be released along the whole intestine, giving a boost in animal intestinal health and, consequently, live performance.

Can nutrition be the complete solution?

AGP reduction or elimination opens to the onset of intestinal disease. Improving intestinal health and barrier function against pathogens and toxins is essential to prevent clinical disease and loss in performance. Balanced nutrition and feed additives can be good helpers to mitigate the effects of the AGP lack in the diet, but they can’t do all themselves. To improve AGP efficacy and reduce their amount in a safe way we can count on nutrition but we also must be sure to have suitable environmental conditions and zootechnical rearing procedures. For example (clearly not exhaustive) the environmental bacterial load must be under the critical point, so cleaning and disinfection cycles are mandatory, as well as the reduction of the number of reared animals in case of overcrowded flocks. At the same time, the immune system of poultry must be helped facing pathogens: vaccines and immunostimulatory give the necessary immune-boost to the animals, protecting them against infections.

In conclusion, as the reduction of AGP is globally required, nutrition and feed additives can be useful to enhance AGP effects and animal health. However, microencapsulation is mandatory to protect active ingredients against degradation and complete absorption within the first part of the intestine and to allow their activity in the entire intestinal tract. Moreover, some active compounds can be more effective together than alone: AviPlus®P is a good example of a microencapsulated specific blend of organic acids and nature identical compound acting with a synergistic effect, improving animal intestinal health and life performance. Nevertheless, despite its importance, nutrition is only one of the active players in rearing healthy chickens and a general view and intervention is the only effective approach to reach the goal.For more information: