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Richard Jackson reviews the 2015 St David's Poultry Conference ahead of 2016 plans.

The inaugural St David’s Poultry Conference held in Belfast in January 2015 on ‘The Science of Antibiotic Reduction’ was attended by poultry industry representatives from the food processing, retail and pharmaceutical sectors and St David’s veterinary surgeons. Key speakers from a selection of the most prestigious poultry research institutions spoke about the use of antibiotics in poultry production. Ahead of plans for another conference in early 2016 after the success of the Belfast conference, Richard Jackson reviews the research and areas already discussed by the key speakers.

Day One: Technical day focusing on the intestine as an ecosystem, whereby changes to one part of that ecosystem have knock-on consequences for the rest of the microflora.


Professor Clare Bryant BSc, BVet Med, MRCVS (Professor of innate immunity at Cambridge University. Clare specialises in vaccines, antibiotics, allergies, pattern recognition receptors and innate immunity)

‘How does Salmonella manage to hide in Chickens?’ This talk discussed how animals immune systems recognise and deal with pathogens such as Salmonella, and why certain bacterial species are pathogenic in man but not animals and vice versa. Clare gave a detailed explanation of how macrophages and enterocytes recognise and phagocytose Salmonella through NLR’s and TLR’s (different host species express different receptors and therefore have different abilities to phagocytose bacteria). The talk discussed the inflammatory pathways following infection and how these pathways caused damage.

Professor Doctor Richard Ducatelle DVM – (Head of Ghent University’s Laboratory of Veterinary Pathology and member of the Board of Directors for Ghent Unversity. Richard specialises in the balance between animals and their intestinal flora).

‘Dysbiosis, Wet Litter and the Intestinal Ecosystem: How to Treat as Disease without a Cause?’ Richard’s talk discussed the relative changes in both the structure of the intestine and the changes in the microbiota in cases of enteritis. The nutritional and management triggers for dysbiosis were described, together with the cascade of changes in the intestinal flora and subsequently the fatty acids produced by these bacteria. The effects of these fatty acids on the intestinal tract were discussed. The presentation concluded with interventions and prevention strategies for reducing the incidence and severity of dysbiosis such as Glutamine, Butyrate, Aspirin and Zinc.

Professor Doctor Colin Hill Bsc PhD (Colin Hill has a PhD in molecular microbiology and is Professor of Microbial Food Safety in the School of Microbiology at University College Cork, Ireland. He has been an SFI Principal Investigator since 2002 (renewed in 2006 and 2010). He is also a Principal Investigator in the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC), a multidisciplinary research centre focusing on the role of gut microbiota in health and disease. His main interests are in infectious disease, particularly in defining the mechanisms of virulence of foodborne pathogens and in developing strategies to prevent and limit the consequences of microbial infections in the gastrointestinal tract).

‘Biological Solutions to Infection in Animals’ This presentation discussed the use of faecal transplants, probiotics, bacteriophages and bacteriocins to control pathogenic bacteria. The talk demonstrated that these interventions can work effectively but that these interventions need to be highly precise in order to destroy the pathogenic bacteria whilst leaving the normal flora unharmed.

Professor Doctor John Moore PhD (Professor John E. Moore is Clinical Microbiologist in the Department of Bacteriology, Belfast City Hospital, Belfast Health & Social Care Trust (BHSCT). He is Honorary Professor of Clinical Microbiology in the School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster and Visiting Professor in the Centre for Infection & Immunity, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University. John has worked in the area of CF Microbiology since 1996 in supporting the Northern Ireland Adult and Paediatric CF Services in Belfast and is particularly interested in better diagnosis of bacterial and fungal infections in patients with cystic fibrosis, as well as environmental and zoonotic aspects of CF-related infection).

‘Development and Management of Antimicrobial Resistance- With Focus on Commensal Organisms’. The presentation discussed primarily, the effect of long term antimicrobial usage on the respiratory tract flora in patients with cystic fibrosis (in these cases antimicrobial therapy is continuous throughout life). The research demonstrated how prolonged antimicrobial usage changed the relative bacterial populations together with allowing opportunistic pathogens to take hold. The importance of Colistin in treating Pseudomonas infections in these cases was highlighted. The presentation also discussed mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance.

Dr Johanna Elvidge ‘ESBL Research and Monitoring- Aviagen Update’.

This presentation discussed the transfer of ESBL genes between bacterial species and how these genes remain within a bacterial population.

Day Two: Focused on the practical approach to antimicrobial reduction- using ‘as much as is necessary but as little as possible’

Piotr Kwiecinski DVM (Piotr is a private poultry veterinary practitioner working in Poland. Piotr has a keen interest in the use of essential oils as an alternative to antimicrobials).

‘How to Reduce the Usage of Antibiotics in Two Simple Steps’. Piotr’s talk discussed the European-wide pressures to reduce antimicrobials in veterinary medicine. The use of measuring MIC’s for antibiotics in cases to determine an appropriate dose rate rather than using sensitivity discs. Piotr then went on to discuss the practical use of essential oils rather than antimicrobials when treating enteric disease in poultry.

Andrezej Widziewicz MA (Andrezej qualified in business and works for Biopoint developing their essential oils business)

‘New Tools to Optimise Poultry Production. This talk focused on some of the more commonly used essential oils in Europe.

Dr. Richard Bailey Bsc MA Ph D (Richard qualified with a science degree before going on to gain his Ph D in poultry intestinal health at the institute for food research in Norwich. Richard currently works at Aviagen as a poultry health scientist. He has recently completed a masters in animal breeding and quantative genetics. Richard’s area of interest is poultry intestinal health).

‘Competitive Exclusion’. This speaker described the usage of competitive exclusion products such as Aviguard in young birds particularly in relation to preventing Salmonella colonisation of the intestine. The affect of fresh litter being a source of bacteria such as E. coli was illustrated as opposed to birds being raised on recycled litter.

Rita Weber DVM (Rita qualified as a vet from Hannover University and completed her post graduate training in Avian Medicine. She has worked in the pharmaceutical industry ever since. In 2011 she joined Zoetis as their technical services manager for the German speaking countries).

‘E. coli Vaccination’. Rita gave background information on how the vaccine’s E. coli strain was attenuated and how it works in vaccinated birds. She then went on to give case studies whereby the vaccine successfully reduced the levels of colibacillosis (and subsequent antimicrobial usage) in broilers, broiler breeders and ducks.





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