Tim Goossens, Business Development Manager "Digestive Performance", Nutriad, Belgium
One of the most important changes in livestock production over the past two decades has been the recognition of gut health as a key driver of animal performance. This phenomenon has been accelerated by increasing awareness of the impact of good livestock management profitability and the importance on disease prevention, as well as the search for means to reduce the use of antibiotics.
The poultry industries have undergone remarkable change and growth over the last 30-year, such that today we see 2.5-kg male broilers at 35 d of age, and white-egg layers are capable of producing in excess of 330 eggs in 52 week of lay. There is often debate about there being an end point to this increased genetic potential, yet the geneticists tell us that selection pressure will be little reduced in the foreseeable future. Feed will always be the major input cost for poultry meat and egg production. Hence undoubtedly, the feed quality in general is going to be the single largest factor influencing the success of future production systems.
There is an increased awareness on the need for the sensible use of antibiotics in poultry and livestock production. When looking at broiler production, the use of antibiotics has traditionally been, and today still is, the highest in the first week of life. How could we explain the relative high use of antibiotics in the first week? What are conditions leading to a high use, and, more importantly: are there possibilities to reduce the antibiotics use?