Why focus on intestinal health?
Gut health and Intestinal Integrity (I2) support bird and flock production efficiency. The core functions of the intestinal tract are digestion, secretion, nutrient absorption and nutrient transport. Disrupting the function of the intestinal system inhibits performance parameters such as average daily gain and feed conversion.
Why focus on respiratory health?
Flock respiratory health can influence bird performance and is sensitive to several factors including disease presence and management practices.
Why focus on bird welfare?
Bird physical health or welfare can alter performance and provide indications of disease presence. Reduced physical health can influence production aspects such as; feed intake, and lower economic returns.
About health tracking and HTSi
Evidenced-based poultry production uses quantitative measurement tools, also known as health tracking systems, to collect proactive flock health data. The practice addresses immediate performance and health concerns to improve long-term management, support sustainable production and maintain flock health.
Benefits of evidence-based poultry production
The global increase in poultry production has raised interest in sustainable poultry rearing practices. Sustainability in this context – as defined by the One Health paradigm – focuses on production being “economically profitable, ecologically sound and socially acceptable.”1 Commercial, sustainable production requires keeping birds healthy using methods including pathogen control, effective biosecurity and vaccination. These tools are needed to protect health and ensure gut integrity as a healthy intestinal tract is required to optimize feed use and prevent nutrient waste.
Overall, three primary reasons to use evidenced-based practices during poultry production include:
- Understanding of flock health to drive timely data-based decisions
- Robust benchmarking against global data
- Improved performance and profitability
What is a health tracking system?
The Health Tracking System (HTSi) is an independently verified, broiler benchmarking platform that provides a record of bird health based on necropsies, enabling producers to track bird performance and health prior to animals reaching processing. HTSi was developed by Elanco and has been in operation since 1995. The system was established to improve the understanding of flock health, support timely data-based decisions, and provide robust benchmarking with the overall goal of better performance, profitability and animal welfare.
HTSi by the numbers2:
- Established in 1995
- Currently used in 54 countries by:
- More than 350 poultry producers
- 600+ complexes
- 8,500+ different farms/poultry production sites
How does HTSi work?
Health tracking uses data from the necropsies of the flock health representative birds to evaluate prevalence and severity of costly bird health threats. HTSi captures lesion scores in three core areas of bird health: Intestinal Integrity (I2) , Respiratory Integrity , and bird welfare. Data from these observations is then gathered and organized in a way that enables producers to take specific actions to improve animal health, productivity and welfare.
Differences between proactive and reactive data:
Proactive data capture
- Necropsy data collected to assess the health status of the flock
- Highlights factors affecting performance and bird health
- Provides benchmarking to farm, regional and global data, trends and historical reviews
- Performance data can be integrated to show long-term trends
- Early warning and alert system
- Decision making and modeling prediction tool
Reactive data capture
- Necropsy data used as diagnostic tool on sick or dead birds
- Only provides day-to-day diagnosis and individual data points
- Hard to use for benchmarking, but important for disease surveillance
- Useful for short-term interventions
1. J, Wilson JB. Data Driven Enhancements to the Intestincal Integrity (I2) Index: A Novel Approach to Support Poultry Sustainability. Agriculture. 2020; 10(8):320. http://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10080320
2. Data on file.
3. Kasab-Bachi H, Arruda A, et al. The use of large databases to inform the development of an intestinal scoring system for the poultry industry. Preventive Veterinry Medicine. 2017; 146:130-135.
4. Blake, D.P., Knox, J., Dehaeck, B. et al. Re-calculating the cost of coccidiosis in chickens. Vet Res 51, 115 (2020). http://doi.org/10.1186/s13567-020-00837-2