6 tips to reduce necrotic enteritis in broilers

Animal Nutrition Views

Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D., gives his views on poultry, pig and dairy nutrition based on his experience as a nutrition consultant with clients around the world.

6 tips to reduce necrotic enteritis in broilers

kharhan, Bigstock.com

Nutritional intervention measures to be considered as part of a broader solution

Necrotic enteritis (acute or chronic enterotoxemia) remains a perennial problem that has been made worse due to the removal of antibiotics from broiler diets. Nutrition intervention measures can play a significant but rather supplementary role. The focus remains on preventing gut pathogenic bacterial growth and boosting overall gut health. The following six tips aim for these outcomes.

  1. Cereal choice

Feeds rich in wheat aid the growth and colonization of clostridia that is implicated with necrotic enteritis. The problem is less severe when wheat is roller milled, as opposed to being hammer milled. The whole issue is most likely related increased digesta viscosity. Adding a wheat-specific enzyme or reducing wheat inclusion level below 25% may help.

  1. Reformulation frequency

Nutritionists are always looking to reduce feed cost, especially when alternative ingredients at enticing prices are made available. Abrupt and drastic changes to feed formulas may unbalance the established gut microbiota which, in turn, may allow certain pathogens, including clostridia, to proliferate and damage the gut epithelium causing necrotic enteritis.

  1. Lipid oxidation

Rancid fatty acids, which may be found at discounted prices, are known to damage the microvilli structure of the gut epithelium. This allows microbes, such as clostridia, to colonize the gut easier, making the onset of necrotic enteritis more certain.

  1. Soybean meal quality

It is known that urease destroys gut mucus that prevents free radicals (from rancid lipids) and toxins (from bacteria and molds) from penetrating and damaging the epithelium, allowing pathogenic bacteria to colonize there more easily.

  1. Organic acids

Certain organic acids reduce the growth of pathogenic bacteria and even the growth of mycotoxin-producing molds. A healthy gut microbiota will always antagonize the pathogenic strains, reducing their chances for proliferation and colonization.

  1. Protein levels

It has been reported that, in cases of severe necrotic enteritis, removal of fish meal, and/or reduction of dietary protein concentration can be beneficial. This is probably related to depriving bacteria from excess dietary protein that is used for their growth.

Leave a Reply


Interesting summary, thank you! Can you comment on the use of proteases and/or of insoluble fiber, like lignocellulose? Thanks

Ioannis Mavromichalis says:

Dear Jose, many thanks for your question. I believe that a protease would help in diminishing the amount of excess protein feeding pathogens in general, thus enhancing gut health. Along the same lines should be seen the effect of lignocellulose. Unfortunately, I do not have concrete data to base these assumptions, for now!

Dré Sanders says:

Hi Ioannis. What is your opinion on using blood plasma. It is high in protein but very digestible thus not much of it would enter the large intestine. Nutritionally it would be a good alternative for less digestible fish meal protein. It also contains for example a high level of immune globulins, which prevent pathogens to infest the gut. Looks to me this cuts on 2 sides, highly digestible protein and immune activity.

Ioannis Mavromichalis says:

I will agree that plasma would be more beneficial than fish meal. It is a matter of finding the balance between cost and benefits!

I would also recommend the use of our feed additive called DinaDerma-Nox® a highly effective combination of Bacillus coagulans and B. licheniformis highly effective against Necrotic enteritis which can withstand pelleting temperatures of 100 C. We offer this in 30X concentrations for use in export to minimize freight costs.