The Importance of a Healthy Gut 

The gastrointestinal tract is responsible for important metabolic functions in broilers. If Intestinal Integrity is lost, digestion and absorption of nutrients are reduced, which can significantly compromise bird performance, welfare and profitability. 

The Threats to Intestinal Integrity 

Intestinal Integrity relates to the condition of the lining of the intestine and is defined as the optimal functionality of the intestinal tract. It performs vital metabolic functions, specifically the digestion, secretion, absorption and transfer of important nutrients.  

Many factors can affect Intestinal Integrity in birds, including poor on-farm management, antinutritional factors, viral challenges and feed/dietary challenges. However, one of the biggest threats to Intestinal Integrity is coccidiosis.  

Intestinal damage and inflammation caused by coccidiosis leads to mucus production in the intestine and encourages Clostridial growth1. In time, this may lead to clinical or subclinical necrotic enteritis, which is a major risk to broiler performance and welfare.  

Coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis can lead to wet litter.2 Wet litter can be very detrimental to broiler health, causing footpad lesions, hock burns and breast blisters.2 

The True Cost of Poor Gut Health in Poultry 

Without Intestinal Integrity, protein normally used for muscle development is redirected to repair intestinal tissue, leaving less energy available for growth and performance.  

​In particular, poor gut health can decrease feed conversion, reduce yield and decrease processing efficiency.3,4  

The annual loss due to coccidiosis on a global scale is estimated to be $3 billion (USD).3 Further costs due to necrotic enteritis also need to be taken into account.4,5  

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  1. Allaart JG, et al. Comparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Disease. 2013; 36:449-464. 
  2. Dunlop MW, et al. Science of the Total Environment. 2016; 562:766-776. 
  3. Kadykalo S, et al. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents. 2018; 51:304-310. 
  4. Williams RB, et al. International Journal of Parasitology. 1999; 29:1209-1229. 
  5. Van der Sluis W. World Poultry. 2000; 16:42-43. 

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