6 Lessons on Antibiotic-Free Solutions to Control BCO Lameness [Webinar]

Prof Robert Wideman of the University of Arkansas and Luis Valenzuela of BIOMIN discuss how to identify and control bacterial chondronecrosis and osteomyelitis (BCO) lameness in poultry without antibiotics.

1. BCO lameness is a problem ‘wherever modern broilers are grown’

BCO is a common cause of lameness in US and Europe that typically affects 1.5% of broilers grown starting at around 30 days of age. In Asia, the incidence of BCO may be lower at around 1%, as production cycles tend to be shorter, though subclinical issues and mortality do occur. Furthermore, BCO can contribute to product quality issues, e.g. consumers reject product where the white cap of articular cartilage separates from the femur head.

BCO may be present and negatively influence flock performance and health even though it is not recognized as such. In one example, Prof Wideman cited a country he visited where multiple individuals claimed that BCO was not a problem locally. However, it turned out that 40% of the mortality in broilers domestically were being culled due to lameness caused by bacterial chondronecrosis with osteomyelitis. That means producers should be diligent: “In my opinion, wherever broilers are being grown, this [BCO] is going to be a problem—an important problem,” stated Dr. Wideman.

2. Here’s how we think BCO lameness develops

BCO entails damage to the growth plates in long bones in the leg and the flexible thoracic vertebrae which causes the growth plates to die and form wound sites, which then become infected with bacteria. Dozens of bacterial species can be present in BCO lesions, including: Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus spp., Enterococcus cecorum, Enterococcus hirae, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp. and Streptococcal spp. The bacteria can then infect the bone as well. Two species –Staphylococcus and Enterococcus cecorum– have been demonstrated to be pathogenic.

A BCO ‘epidemic’ outbreak can affect over 15% of a flock. It can be described as a metabolic disease, in that it becomes most severe in the fastest growing flocks.

3. Good gut health is the key to stopping BCO

From what we know of the pathogenesis of BCO, pathogenic bacteria (e.g. Staphylococcus spp., Enterococcus spp. and even E. coli) harbored in the gut gradually leak through the intestinal epithelium, make their way into the circulation and trigger the infections. Hence, the primary focus is to improve intestinal health and barrier function to protect against bacterial translocation responsible for BCO.

4. Non-antibiotic solutions are increasingly relevant

Until recently, antibiotics were the method of choice to treat BCO lameness. However, an antibiotic treatment will not be effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria or during the withdrawal period. During the live webcast, 97% of participants indicated that antibiotic reduction is an objective in their operation—highlighting the need for antibiotic-free solutions to address the problem.

5. Certain probiotics can address BCO lameness; some cannot

Prof Wideman presented results of 5 experiments with 4 broiler lines conducted over the course of 2 years showing how one probiotic product was effective in reducing the incidence of BCO lameness. Yet, in 2 experiments under similar conditions with another probiotic, there was negligible response from the other product in terms of reducing BCO. While the second probiotic may have had some beneficial use in gut performance, it did not protect against bacterial translocation.

6. Research has identified the beneficial bacteria that drive good poultry gut health

“A healthy gut is the backbone of performance,” according to Luis Valenzuela, Product Manager at BIOMIN. Extensive research has identified 3 types beneficial bacteria that acts as drivers of good gut health in poultry, each inhabiting various parts of the gastrointestinal tract: 1) Enterococcus sp. originating in the jejunum, 2) Bifidobacterium sp. originating in the ileum, and 3) Lactobacillus spp. originating in the cecum. They act to competitively exclude harmful bacteria in the gut, prime the immune system and create a proper environment for beneficial microflora.

All three strains are found in PoultryStar® – a well-defined, poultry-specific, multi-species synbiotic product developed by BIOMIN that is the only one of its kind with EU authorization.

Biography of Robert F. Wideman Jr., Emeritus Professor, University of Arkansas

Dr. Wideman began his career at Penn State University, where he rose to the rank of Professor of Poultry Science while teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in Physiology, and conducting research related to calcium metabolism and kidney damage in laying hens. In 1993 Professor Wideman was recruited as the Distinguished Professor of Poultry Science and Arkansas Poultry Federation Chair at the University of Arkansas. He served as Professor and Associate Director of the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science. Professor Wideman recently retired as an Emeritus Professor.In his present position, professor Wideman is involved in Advisory Services to the Feed & Animal Industries: Poultry feed formulation, feed milling technology, R&D Project Development, technical support to Italian users of NC Singlemix®, a Formulation Software by Format International Ltd.

Biography of Luis Valenzuela, Product Manager Microbials, BIOMIN

Luis Valenzuela joined BIOMIN as Product Manager Microbials in January 2017, representing the PoultryStar® product line. He holds a BSc in animal production at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology (Taiwan) and MSc in fish nutrition at National Taiwan Ocean University (Taiwan). Luis also posses a degree from the Specialized School of Engineering ITCA-Fepade in El Salvador as Tec. Industrial Engineering. His expertise is related to the nutrition of monogastric animals and aquatic species.