Poultry Litter Management in Antibiotic-Free Operations
In recent years, increasingly more integrators have shifted production to an antibiotic-free model due to consumer pressures and regulatory demand. Whether labeled no antibiotics ever (NAE), no antibiotics fed (NAF), raised without antibiotics (RWA) or another term, the change has brought with it many challenges. It has become clear that conventional house management practices need to be reevaluated.
Best management practices (BMPs) that manage from the floor up must be instituted—meaning that litter management concerns come before all other parameters prior to bird placement. If the proper BMPs are not instituted at the beginning of the program, trying to grow antibiotic-free poultry on the old conventional blueprint will be met with unfortunate challenges. It’s easy to make changes in feed programs, vaccination programs, density, sanitation and vector control. However, managing a living environment such as built up litter takes time, and changes cannot be made overnight.
This careful attention to litter management practices ensures the environment does not present unnecessary challenges that may inhibit bird intestinal health and performance at placement or during grow-out.
Products and Guidance for Successful Antibiotic-Free Operations
Successful implementation of an antibiotic-free program requires several components that intertwine:
- Deliberate management of intestinal microflora
- Increased proficiency in house and litter management
- Decreased pathogen pressure
When PLT® was first introduced to the poultry market, the focus was on the bacterial control properties of the product. However, customers were more excited about the ammonia control properties and that benefit became the focus of sales efforts. However, the shift in litter ecology from the use of PLT is a critical component to its efficacy and is critical in an antibiotic-free operation.
The use of LS-PWT2®/PWT® for crop acidification enhances the effects of PLT in the litter by adding a second front in determining the type of microflora that establishes in the birds’ GI tract. PLT is unique in that it can be added with birds in the house helping to maintain proper litter microflora at times of high risk to the bird.
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