ELANCO has released its latest Health Tracking System (HTSi) report which highlights a peak in coccidiosis detection in broilers in the summer months.

The survey, which covers 5,244 post-mortem bird examinations from 743 broiler houses on 314 UK farms, found an increase in E. maxima in particular over last summer.  

See also: Broiler disease investigation – understanding the process

The number of birds presenting with gross and microscopic E. maxima between June to September 2022 was 18%, compared with 5% a year earlier.

In addition, in the latter months of the summer a five-fold increase E. tenella was picked up by the survey, the species of coccidiosis most likely to cause mortality in birds. It is not often seen in high levels in the UK.

Elanco uses a range of factors from post-mortem examinations to create an “intestinal integrity” score, which it calls I2. This score is then used to give an overall picture of broiler gut health across the survey. 

Summer gut health

Explaining the findings, Louise Ashworth, Elanco HTSi technical consultant, said: “During the last couple of years, we’ve started to see a recurring trend where intestinal health destabilises during the summer months. In this latest data set, this dip is even more pronounced.

“In 2022, we saw a reduction in Intestinal Integrity (I2) scores during the spring, with a further decline far beyond that seen in 2021, going into the summer. Scores began to improve again over the autumn into winter, with I2 returning to expected levels by the end of 2022.”

Miss Ashworth added: “We’ve observed that producers often consider the summer to be a ‘safe space’ to change coccidiosis programmes or loosen biosecurity protocols. Whereas, over the winter, everyone tends to ‘buckle up’ when it comes to disease prevention.

“However, the data shows this really isn’t the case. The decline in I2 we’ve seen over the summer is inevitably linked to the increase in coccidiosis, most notably E. maxima, seen over the same period,” she adds. 

The full report is available from Elanco UK’s website.