Potential challenges and reliable solutions

Gut health

Broiler chicks and turkey poults have the highest rate of gain in early life. A broiler chick’s GIT grows up to six times its initial weight in just seven days! In less than five weeks, this GIT system needs to handle the outstanding appetite of the bird, which may consume around 10% of its body weight per day. Turkey poults will be 20 times heavier than their hatching weight by 28 days of age! By 20 weeks of age, male turkeys will have multiplied their original poult weight by more than 350 times.

For sure, it would be impossible for birds with such potential to have optimum feed intake and, eventually, maximum growth if their gastrointestinal tract is not properly supported.

How to maintaining optimal gut health in commercial broilers and turkey birds

Early feeding and intestinal development

Feed intake is accompanied by fast development of the GI tract and all of its associated organs. It is known that GIT development is considerably lower and slower in birds with delayed access to good quality feed. Although we always offer commercial chicks plenty of feed at the starting point, they may avoid a proper intake and, consequently, proper GIT development.

There might be a number of reasons behind such behaviour, of which one may be related to the quality of feed that we offer them. Nutrient imbalances, the presence of anti-nutritional factors and also low digestibility of nutrients within the feed all need to be considered here. 

Feed’s nutrient digestibility and gut health

This is not just the presence of enterobacteria like Clostridium perfringens or E. coli in the gut, which can undermine gut health in young birds. In most cases, the real problem is the presence of excessive and undigested nutrients in the hindgut, which causes the proliferation of these microbes in the bird’s intestine.

To avoid such conditions, we must consider using feedstuffs where their proper digestibility is guaranteed, and their consistency is maintained.

Gut health and the influence of its microbiota

The microbial community of a bird’s GIT is very complex and dynamic. It contains both beneficial and harmful micro-organisms. They interact within themselves, with their host, and also with the diet of their host. The intestinal microbial ecosystem balance is called eubiosis, and in a eubiotic status the beneficial bacteria are in control.

In some circumstances, beneficial bacteria lose their control and there is no balance between them and harmful bacteria. Such a condition is called dysbiosis, which is where an undesirable alteration of the microbiota results in an imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria. 

Potential challenges and reliable solution

Feed intake

Modern commercial broilers and turkeys have been selected for body weight gain...

Gut health

Broiler chicks and turkey poults have the highest rate of gain early in life...

Immune system

The genetic selection for increased bodyweight in broilers and turkey birds...

Environmental pollution

Poultry farming has an overall lower footprint than other livestock farming...