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Past research has found that birds fed corn-based diets were less likely to experience severe NE than birds fed wheat-, rye-, oats-, or barley-based diets1. Non-corn based diets are thicker and move through the digestive system more slowly, giving C. perfringens the ideal environment for rapid multiplication.
Animal proteins (especially fishmeal) can precipitate NE outbreaks. Providing a plant-based protein source and ensuring that protein is being fed at the recommended levels (overfeeding protein also provides more nutrients for C. perfringens overgrowth) can aid in preventing NE1. For more information, read this article published in the Journal of Poultry Science.
Birds transitioning from starter to grower rations (high protein/low energy to low protein/high energy) are at higher risk of developing NE. Birds should be transitioned to new feeds slowly to prevent rapid changes to gut acidity levels, which can precipitate the overgrowth of C. perfringens that are involved in NE infections. Working closely with your nutritionist and veterinarian will help you fine-tune protein levels and feeding strategies to minimize the effects of diet on NE.
Restricting access to feed can decrease disease rates and improve nutrient use and feed efficiency2. Temporarily restricting feed therefore leads to a rebound in growth (higher growth and feed conversion) during subsequent ad-lib feeding2. Studies have shown that temporary feed restriction (elimination of feed for 12 hours during the night over 4 days) resulted in less severe NE in broilers — suggesting a protective effect2.
- Moore RJ. Necrotic enteritis predisposing factors in broiler chickens. Avian Pathol. 2016;45(3):275–81.1.
- Tsiouris V, Georgopoulou I, Batzios C, Pappaioannou N, Ducatelle R, Fortomaris P. Temporary feed restriction partially protects broilers from necrotic enteritis. Avian Pathol. [Internet]. 2014;43(2):139–45. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03079457.2014.889278