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An Overview Of the Challenges Of Necrotic Enteritis In Chickens

By Tom Seest

What Is Necrotic Enteritis In Chickens?

Necrotic enteritis is an infectious disease in chickens. It’s caused by a bacterial infection in the intestines. The bacteria that cause it is called C perfringens. It’s a common bacteria that lives in chickens’ intestines. This disease is also known as enterotoxemia because it damages the intestinal mucosa. Chickens are predisposed to develop the disease if they consume high levels of grains and animal byproducts. This condition also can be triggered by anything that promotes excessive bacterial growth in the intestines.

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What Are the Symptoms of Necrotic Enteritis In Chickens?

Symptoms of necrotizing enterititis in chickens can vary considerably depending on the severity of the disease. It can cause dehydration and depression in birds and result in poor weight gain. Consequently, untreated flocks can experience mortality of up to 30%.
The infection is often caused by an indigestible dietary protein. This protein can build up in the chicken’s lower intestines and serve as a substrate for the gut microbiota. Eventually, the protein will be fermented and produce unfavorable by-products. The pH of the intestine increases, which can promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
A bacterial infection caused by Clostridium perfringens can lead to necrotic enteritis in chickens. It can affect the chicken’s digestive system and can cause liver lesions. The bacterial infection can also lead to death. It is important to know how to prevent necrotic enteritis in chickens. You can prevent the disease by controlling the Coccidia in your flock.
The signs of necrotic enteritis in chickens include mucosal erosion of the small intestine. The severity and character of these lesions vary widely. Sometimes, necrotic enteritis is accompanied by other symptoms, such as decreased appetite and lethargy. The disease may also result in death, depending on the severity of the disease.
A novel toxin has been proposed as the causative agent for necrotic enteritis in chickens. Studies have shown that a knockout mutant of this bacteria was unable to reproduce the disease unless it was complemented with the wild-type NetB gene. The NetB toxin is a pore-forming protein that bores hydrophilic pores into cell membranes. Unfortunately, not all Clostridium species are able to cause necrotic enteritis in chickens, so it is important to note that the etiology of the disease is still unclear.
Although the cause of necrotic enteritis in chickens is not well understood, it is known that it increases with changes in the gastrointestinal environment, including the feed diet. Depending on the toxin, the bacterium can colonize enterocytes, degrade mucus, and secrete enzymes that can further damage the gut wall. The rate of growth of this bacteria varies with diet, feed passage rate, immune status, and co-infection with other pathogens, including viruses and Eimeria spp.

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What Are the Causes of Necrotic Enteritis In Chickens?

The most important factor in preventing necrotic enteritis is maintaining a healthy gut. Chickens with poor gut health will be prone to poor feed efficiency and reduced meat yields. Fortunately, there are several ways to maintain good gut health and control the disease.
One way is through dietary protein. Indigestible protein will build up in the lower intestinal tract, where it will act as a substrate for the gut microbiota. This process produces unfavorable by-products, increases the pH level, and promotes the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
One of the most common causes of NE is a bacterium called Clostridium perfringens. This bacteria normally lives in the intestines and is common in poultry houses. It multiplies explosively when the intestinal microflora is disturbed or damaged, causing enlargement of the small intestine. The bacterial infection also results in the breakdown of the intestinal mucosa and necrosis.
Some studies have shown that the infection is associated with immune suppression caused by viral infections. In addition, this disease tends to occur in juvenile meat-type chickens. It typically manifests in chickens around 16 to 28 days of age. However, it is rare in layer-type chickens and often does not develop until later in life. This disease can also be caused by the presence of mycotoxins, which can harm intestinal integrity and create an ideal environment for C. perfringens to replicate.
The bacterium Clostridium perfringens is a common pathogen found in poultry. It is naturally present in the intestine and is spread throughout the flock by the litter-pecking behavior of chickens. Although the bacterium normally exists commensally in the chicken gut, it produces toxins under specific circumstances.

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What Are the Costs for Necrotic Enteritis In Chickens?

The costs of necrotizing enteritis in chicken production are high, and the disease results in substantial losses for the poultry industry. As a result, poultry producers use antibiotics both to treat the disease and to prevent it. Despite this, it is far easier to prevent the disease than to treat it. It is, therefore, vital to identify the causes and find effective solutions to minimize the damage and costs associated with the disease.
Necrotizing enteritis in chickens affects poultry producers worldwide and costs up to $5-6 billion annually. Traditionally, the disease was controlled by adding antibiotics to poultry feed. However, in recent years, the poultry industry has shifted away from this practice. Consequently, the disease has re-emerged. Since necrotic enteritis has multiple predisposing factors, it is not possible to eradicate the disease completely without antibiotics.
Toxins produced by Clostridium perfringens are the culprits behind necrotic enteritis. The bacteria can cause the disease by degrading mucus, colonizing enterocytes, secreting enzymes, and damaging the gut wall. The infection also increases with changes in the intestine’s environment.
The disease is devastating for poultry producers, and Western College of Veterinary Medicine is working to find new methods to control it. The disease, which is caused by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens, primarily affects broilers but can also affect turkeys and quail. It is estimated to affect up to 40% of commercial broiler flocks. And the economic impact of necrotic enteritis on the industry is staggering.
As mentioned before, necrotic enteritis in chickens is a potentially fatal disease. In addition, it can cause poor feed conversion and nutrient absorption. Even worse, necrotic enteritis can lead to an increase in condemnations.

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What Are the Predisposing Factors for Necrotic Enteritis In Chickens?

The disease is caused by Clostridium perfringens, which is a common bacteria that normally live in the intestines of chickens. However, the presence of certain predisposing factors, such as antibiotic treatment, vaccination, and changes in the normal intestinal microflora, can exacerbate the infection.
One of the main predisposing factors for necrotic enteritis in chickens is indigestible dietary protein. This protein builds up in the intestine and becomes a substrate for the gut microbiota. The bacteria in the intestines ferment this protein, which results in unfavorable by-products and encourages the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria.
Keeping the levels of Clostridium perfringens in the gut of chickens low and maintaining a balance of gut flora are two of the most effective ways of preventing necrotic enteritis. Another effective method is the use of antibiotics, which can be added to the feed or water. Bacitracin, lincomycin, virginimycin, and penicillin have all been shown to be effective against necrotic enteritis. In addition, a reliable vaccine can protect poultry from coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis.
One of the best ways to prevent necrotic enteritis is to limit the amount of fishmeal in chicken feed. It is also helpful to reduce the number of nonstarch polysaccharides in the feed. Also, using enzymes in the feed and probiotics can prevent the proliferation of C. perfringens in the chicken gut.
Several other predisposing factors for necrotic enteritis in chickens include increased stocking density and stress. While the disease is treatable, it can significantly decrease the production value of chickens. Further, it is linked to other poultry diseases, including coccidiosis. Further, the incidence of necrotic enteritis has increased due to the development of antimicrobial resistance in chickens.

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What Are the Treatments for Necrotic Enteritis In Chickens?

Treatment of necrotizing enteritis in poultry involves identifying the cause and treating the disease. This disease is often triggered by an indigestible protein that builds up in the lower intestine. This protein acts as a substrate for pathogenic bacteria and exacerbates the disease. This condition can lead to dehydration, lethargy, and death. The affected organs include the ceca, duodenum, and jejunum.
To determine if your chicken has necrotic enteritis, start by checking its diet. A diet high in animal byproducts and grains can predispose chickens to the disease. Anything that promotes bacterial growth is also a potential cause of necrotic enteritis.
While treating chickens with antibiotics is not always a good idea, there are several alternative treatments for this disease. One method involves adding phytogenic feed additives or probiotics to their feed. These treatments have been shown to reduce the number of coccidial infections in chickens and reduce the severity of intestinal lesions and disease progression. In addition, early exposure of chicks to contaminated litter decreased the incidence of controlled necrotic enteritis. New broiler houses and contaminated litter also increase the risk of an outbreak.
Treatment of necrotic enteritis in chickens should involve eliminating bacterial infection and restoring GI health. The infection can be fatal if left untreated. The mortality rate for necrotic enteritis is very high. Infected chickens can be sent to the slaughterhouse or have a poor quality of life.

This photo was taken by ROMAN ODINTSOV and is available on Pexels at https://www.pexels.com/photo/rooster-and-hens-walking-around-on-a-pavement-6342341/.
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