A retrospective study conducted in five Northern European nations using Elanco’s Health Tracking System (HTS) suggests that seasonality influences the enteric health of broilers, and also affects poultry producers’ economics. The Intestinal Integrity Index (I2) developed by Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly and Co., serves as a cumulative assessment of all factors affecting a flock’s enteric health which contributes to broiler welfare. Elanco’s HTS database was used to calculate the I2 index for flocks in the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Poland during summer (June through September) and winter (October through May) months over a three-year period between January 2012 and December 2014.

Observations derived from the research indicate the difference in the I2 index between winter and summer groups resulted in an improvement of +0.44 points for the winter period. The cost of seasonality for producers was estimated using differences in average live body weight (LBW). Comparisons of LBW between winter and summer seasons revealed a difference of +22.04 g. In addition to the season’s effect on flock health, seasonality was also estimated to have an economic impact of €20 ($21) /1,000 kg of LBW for the three year period, or the equivalent of €16,000/yr ($17,000) for every million broilers of 2.4 kg LBW.

Elanco technical consultants Guillermo Gonzalez Garcia and Alexandre Teixeira Zocche, co-authors of the “Impact of Seasonality in the Intestinal Integrity of Broilers in Northern European Countries in the Period 2012-2014,” discussed findings from the study during the Symposium on Gut Heath in Production of Food Animals poster session, Nov. 9-11 in Kansas City, MO.

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Dr. Alexandre Zocche, senior global technical consultant, poultry brands at Elanco, said the findings support the implementation of a multifactorial approach to promote better intestinal integrity protection, especially during the summer months. “The impact of seasonality on flocks’ intestinal integrity has long been a point of discussion in the industry, along with questions about how to effectively assess enteric health,” Zocche said. While further investigations need to be performed to more fully understand and evaluate which macroscopial GIT changes are more visible in the summer, Zocche said an effective anticoccidial strategy implemented during the summer months can ensure better protection of a flock’s intestinal integrity.

As 2016 approaches, Elanco is poised to embrace intestinal integrity as the cornerstone of enhanced enteric health and improved flock performance and economics. “Intestinal integrity is critical to the health and welfare, performance and economics of flocks around the globe,” said Zocche. “Enteric disease imposes costs across the value chain and Elanco is turning to value added diagnostics and data-driven technologies to help producers proactively measure, monitor and manage their flocks’ enteric health.”