Newsletter March 2019

Antibiotics during the first week post-hatch is proving detrimental to gut health

Treatment of broiler chickens with broad-spectrum antibiotics from day 1 post-hatch has become popular in South Africa.
This is likely a result of an attempt to reduce infections from yolk and naval areas post-hatch and to ensure a healthy flock.
However, research has shown that early treatment of broiler chickens with antibiotics causes permanent damage to the gut
microbiome (Qureshi & Ayesha, 2017). Their review article evaluated the impact of various antibiotic type treatments on the gut
microbiome and intestinal wall integrity for the first week post-hatch versus 15-day old chicks. They found that
broiler chickens can repair antibiotic related microflora damage after 15 days of age but are unable to repair
damage in the first 7 days post-hatch. Therefore, antibiotic use in the first 7 days post-hatch results in permanent damage to the gut
leading to poor growth, absorption and immunity in later life. A reduction in growth rate and a poor feed conversion ratio in the last
week before slaughter could be a result of this antibiotic induced damage, as a damaged gut wall and poor microbial levels/population
will prevent optimal absorption of much needed nutrients during this fast growth period.

The use of gut acidifiers such as Gutpro®, UltiGroTM and Super Vitamin P® during the first week post-hatch will prevent pathogenic
bacteria from yolk and navals from infecting the gut. These products will also boost the formation of a healthy gut microbiome which
will ensure optimal growth rates and feed conversion before slaughter.

Antibiotics remain an important therapeutic tool for the treatment of sick birds but should be used cautiously in
the first 14 days of life to ensure larger problems are not created. Super Sal StopTM is a good alternative
treatment to antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of Salmonella and E. coli, especially in the first 7 days
post-hatch.