Three studies were conducted using Clostridium perfringens as an intestinal challenge to produce necrotic enteritis (NE). The studies consisted of two battery screening studies and one production study in floor pens, which were used to test the effect of the addition of Bacillus licheniformis (DSM 17236) spores at different doses and feeding periods in comparison to birds fed diets with subtherapeutic levels of virginiamycin (15 g/ton feed). In all three studies the use of B. licheniformis (1.6 × 106–8 × 107 CFUs/g) or virginiamycin (15 g/ton feed) showed no difference in effect with regard to feed conversion ratio, weight gain, NE lesion score, and NE mortality. In the two battery studies, both treatments showed a significantly decreased feed conversion ratio, increased weight gain, reduced NE lesion score, and NE-reduced mortality compared to the nonmedicated C. perfringens–challenged group. In general, none of the treatments performed as well as the no-challenge group. The present data indicate that the use of B. licheniformis spores as a probiotic or direct-fed microbial could be an alternative to adding medication to the feed to overcome NE under commercial-like conditions and could therefore be of direct use in preventing antibiotic-resistant pathogens in chickens.
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Vol. 54 • No. 2