Impacts of antibiotic reduction strategies on zootechnical performances, health control, and Eimeria spp. excretion compared with conventional antibiotic programs in commercial broiler chicken flocks

Eric Parent, Marie Archambault, Robert J. Moore, Martine Boulianne

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Increasing efforts have been made in recent years to reduce antimicrobial use in animal production. The objective of this prospective study was to evaluate, in commercial broiler chicken farms, 2 antibiotic reduction strategies that eliminated the use of antibiotics important for human medicine, in comparison with the conventional use of antibiotics. On 7 broiler chicken farms, a house was allocated to the antibiotic reduction treatments for 6 consecutive flocks, whereas a similar house on the same premises was assigned to the conventional use of antibiotics (CONV) for 6 consecutive flocks. The antibiotic reduction strategies consisted of continuous in-feed use of ionophores (TX1) and continuous in-feed use of ionophores with butyric acid (TX2). In the 84 flocks, zootechnical performance was recorded, lesion scoring at 21 and 28 D of age was performed, and fecal samples were recovered during grow out for Eimeria spp. oocysts counts. There was no statistical difference between TX1, TX2, and CONV for weights at slaughter, feed conversion ratios, average daily gains, age at slaughter, total mortalities, and condemnations. The probability of identifying oocysts in the fecal samples significantly increased with the age of the flock, but there was no significant treatment effect between 7 and 16 D of age. At 19 D of age, the probability of a sample containing oocysts was higher in TX1 than in CONV, but TX2 was not statistically different from TX1 and CONV. Predicted oocysts per gram in CONV flocks were significantly lower between 22 and 34 D of age than in TX1 and TX2 flocks, whereas there were no significant differences between TX1 and TX2 for all ages. Lesion scoring of the gastrointestinal system showed no differences for coccidiosis scores between TX1, TX2, and CONV. No lesions of necrotic enteritis were observed. In conclusion, it was possible to adequately control intestinal diseases and maintain zootechnical performances by relying exclusively on ionophores, when compared with broiler chicken flocks using standard shuttle programs with antibiotic growth promoters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4303-4313
Number of pages11
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • antibiotic reduction
  • broiler
  • Eimeria spp
  • intestinal health
  • zootechnical performance

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