How to boost young chicks’ and turkey poults’ immune systems naturally
Potential challenges and reliable solutions
The genetic selection for increased bodyweight in broilers and turkey birds has led to a decrease in the relative weight of their primary and secondary immune organs. It appears that such a change has decreased the bird’s ability to resist diseases as much as they used to. Therefore, maintenance of the immune system is, and will continue to be, a significant challenge requiring poultry producers’ good understanding and full attention.
The immune response of young chicks and poults in the first 2-3 weeks of life against foreign organisms and antigenic substances is considerably less than adult birds. This makes them more susceptible to infections and disease, so they need to receive much more attention and extra support.
Early, proper feeding and improved immunity
The residual yolk may have an important nutritional role and partially contribute to body weight gain in the first few days of a chick’s life. However, the residual yolk does not provide the required level of nutrients to fully support the immune system maturation during the early period of life. Nutrients are the major factor that determine the expression of genetic potential of birds in terms of growth, development and, of course, immunity.
Scientists have identified how early and proper nutrition helps the immune system in young birds, as well as how the immune system takes advantage of good early nutrition:
- Good early nutrition provides nutrients that may otherwise be limited.
- Feed presence within the bird’s gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is necessary for triggering full differentiation of the primary immune cells, particularly B lymphocytes.
- Early nutrition with carefully formulated feed helps with a faster development of the gut associated lymphoid tissues (GALT).
- Proper feeding may influence endogenous levels of hormones and/or other immunomodulators within the bird’s body.
The above facts suggest that early feeding with carefully formulated feed helps young chicks and turkey poults to respond to physiological and environmental challenges more efficiently. General performance of such birds will be better compared to other birds, particularly when exposed to challenge.
Gut health and the bird’s immunity
The bird’s gut is the biggest immune organ in the body. Gut epithelium cells are in direct contact with whatever is ingested by birds, for example nutrients & non-nutrient materials, pathogenic, non-pathogenic and opportunistic bacteria, as well as resident micro-organisms and their metabolites.
In such an environment, the intestinal immune system must trigger a protective immune response against pathogenic bacteria and other harmful substances while maintaining tolerance to antigens from food and commensals.
Potential challenges and reliable solution
The genetic selection for increased bodyweight in broilers and turkey birds...