The Importance of Gut Health in Early Chick Development

It’s widely accepted that the most crucial stage for gut health in poultry is the first 14 days of the bird’s life.  Using EKOGEA® BioComplex Feed additive can be a vital in ensuring the health of your birds.

Broiler chicks

In the natural world, the foundation of the early immune system for chicks is put down by the laying hens, brooding and sitting on their eggs day and night.  Immunity is boosted by transfer via the egg shell to the chick embryo.  Once hatched, the chick then scratches around the hen house and continues to pick up the natural immunities that it needs to progress.

Issues with Commercial Poultry Farming

But what happens in commercial poultry farming?  For all the progress in technology in hatcheries nothing can truly replicate the immunity transfer from a brooding mother hen and, such is the current system, the chicks are transferred to growing sheds long before they can begin to build any post-hatching defences.  These growing sheds are then dangerous places for susceptible young birds.

Past solutions have involved mass use of antibiotics.  As we all know, however, this practice no longer occurs on poultry farms.  So what else?

The EKOGEA® Solution

The main solution going forward is to use feed to promote a healthy microbiota within the gut as soon as possible.  This is where our BioComplex Feed ingredient comes into its own.  The prebiotic effect of this feed ingredient promotes competitive exclusion in the guts of the young chicks, i.e. the production of beneficial gut bacteria at the expense of harmful pathogens such as E Coli, which can go on to cause all manner of digestive diseases in both chicks and adult birds.

Importance of Initial Stages

Continued studies suggest it’s the first 14 days which are most crucial, a time period after which either the good or the bad gut bacteria will win out.  As much as we’d suggest continuing to use BioComplex Feed ingredient for the full lifespan of the birds to enjoy the full benefits of BioComplex, it’s increasingly clear that it’s these initial 14 days of life that will have the biggest impact on gut health and the ensuing improved feed conversion rates, reduced mortality rates, and reduced levels of hockburn and pododermatitis.

For more information on how our BioComplex Feed ingredient can help you and your poultry business, please contact Aidan Doherty or Mike Clarke from our Animal Health team.

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