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In modern poultry farming, the use of antibiotics has gone down substantially. “Non Antibiotics Ever” (NAE) production is commonly accepted. Keeping the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of growing birds functioning properly, is vital however. Adequate management is essential to keep NAE flocks healthy and in good condition. 

The vital role the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) plays in nutrient absorption and the immune response is probably much more complex and dynamic than most of us realize. We do know, however, that maintaining good intestinal health and minimizing intestinal disruptions are critical to growth, to the health and welfare of birds and to the food safety aspects of modern-day poultry production.

>This is especially true for no antibiotics ever (NAE) production systems.

If digestion and nutrient absorption are compromised, an overgrowth of intestinal microbes can occur that, in turn, affect bird health and performance.


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Feed and water

One of the most basic tenets for maintaining good intestinal health in NAE flocks is good quality feed and water. In fact, feed and water quality need to be superior.

I advise producers with NAE flocks to make sure they have quality feed and to make sure they never run out of feed. It takes only a few hours without feed for the gut mucosa to shift, making birds more susceptible to enteritis.

Feed withdrawal stimulates mucin production by goblet cells in the intestinal mucosa. This extra mucin is then used by bacteria to irritate the mucosa and generate inflammatory reactions.

Good drinking water quality is likewise critically important for NAE flocks. Much of my extension work today is focused on well water quality for poultry farms growing NAE birds.
Water hardness, alkalinity and a high pH can disturb crop pH and reduce the early phase of digestion, bacteria can cause disease and threaten flock health, while a low pH can irritate the intestinal lining.
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