ZOETIS has said its Poulvac E coli vaccine can now be administered to laying hen and breeder flocks in-lay.

For layer and breeder flocks, the previous UK and European data sheet did not allow use in birds in lay or within six weeks before the onset of the laying period.

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This limitation has now been replaced with an in-lay safety claim, allowing the vaccine to be used throughout lay.

The company described the opportunity to extend protection against E Coli infection for egg layers and breeding stock as “a significant advance for the poultry industry”.

It will offer both laying hens protection and potentially broiler flocks, as it has been shown that E Coli can be passed vertically from breeders to chicks.

‘Greater flexibility’

John Kenyon, Zoetis UK national veterinary manager, said: “The stated duration of immunity is 12 weeks, and many flock owners choose to vaccinate multiple times during the rearing period to maximum protection levels.”

“This new approval gives them much greater flexibility in protecting their birds.”

“The timing of vaccination in rearing can now be adjusted to include use in the six weeks before start of lay with the opportunity for further use during the laying period which is now often extended from 72- to 80-weeks or even longer.”

Breeding stock

Mr Kenyon added that extending the protection could be particularly beneficial where there had been E Coli issues in the past and to react to disease occurring in a particular flock that had not responded to medication or other interventions.

Over the past ten years, the vaccine has become routinely used throughout the egg laying sector and has proved particularly helpful in protecting valuable breeding stock, Zoetis said.

The new extension follows two laboratory-based safety studies, a field trial and data from field experience of its use in lay in three countries.

One study was on more than 10,000 layer parents in Denmark looking at the effect of vaccination on bird health, laying performance and hatching results.

It found no adverse effect on the health or performance of birds when administered in-lay, and the vaccine strain was not present in sheds, in, or on the eggs.