Gut health and Intestinal Integrity (I2) support bird and flock production efficiency. The core functions of the intestinal tract are digestion, secretion, nutrient absorption and nutrient transport. Disrupting the function of the intestinal system inhibits performance parameters such as average daily gain and feed conversion.
Flock respiratory health can influence bird performance and is sensitive to several factors including disease presence and management practices.
Bird physical health or welfare can alter performance and provide indications of disease presence. Reduced physical health can influence production aspects such as; feed intake, and lower economic returns.
Evidenced-based poultry production uses quantitative measurement tools, also known as health tracking systems, to collect proactive flock health data. The practice addresses immediate performance and health concerns to improve long-term management, support sustainable production and maintain flock health.
The global increase in poultry production has raised interest in sustainable poultry rearing practices. Sustainability in this context – as defined by the One Health paradigm – focuses on production being “economically profitable, ecologically sound and socially acceptable.”1 Commercial, sustainable production requires keeping birds healthy using methods including pathogen control, effective biosecurity and vaccination. These tools are needed to protect health and ensure gut integrity as a healthy intestinal tract is required to optimize feed use and prevent nutrient waste.
Overall, three primary reasons to use evidenced-based practices during poultry production include:
The Health Tracking System (HTSi) is an independently verified, broiler benchmarking platform that provides a record of bird health based on necropsies, enabling producers to track bird performance and health prior to animals reaching processing. HTSi was developed by Elanco and has been in operation since 1995. The system was established to improve the understanding of flock health, support timely data-based decisions, and provide robust benchmarking with the overall goal of better performance, profitability and animal welfare.
HTSi by the numbers2:
Health tracking uses data from the necropsies of the flock health representative birds to evaluate prevalence and severity of costly bird health threats. HTSi captures lesion scores in three core areas of bird health: Intestinal Integrity (I2) , Respiratory Integrity , and bird welfare. Data from these observations is then gathered and organized in a way that enables producers to take specific actions to improve animal health, productivity and welfare.
Proactive data capture
Reactive data capture
1. J, Wilson JB. Data Driven Enhancements to the Intestincal Integrity (I2) Index: A Novel Approach to Support Poultry Sustainability. Agriculture. 2020; 10(8):320. https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10080320
2. Data on file.
3. Kasab-Bachi H, Arruda A, et al. The use of large databases to inform the development of an intestinal scoring system for the poultry industry. Preventive Veterinry Medicine. 2017; 146:130-135.
4. Blake, D.P., Knox, J., Dehaeck, B. et al. Re-calculating the cost of coccidiosis in chickens. Vet Res 51, 115 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13567-020-00837-2