Tackling the Combined Impact of Necrotic Enteritis and Aflatoxin Co-Challenge

Product availability may vary by country, associated claims do not constitute medical claims and may differ based on government requirements.

In a recent blog post on the cumulative effect of multiple mycotoxins, we discussed how, in reality, animals are more likely to be affected by multiple mycotoxins in their feed, unlike a single mycotoxin typically studied in research. In the real world, animals are likely to encounter both mycotoxins in their feed and bacteria in their environment simultaneously. To demonstrate this, Amlan funded research that compared a Necrotic Enteritis (NE) challenge with a co-challenge of Necrotic Enteritis and Aflatoxin (NE+AFL) published in the Journal of Applied Poultry Research 

Necrotic Enteritis is a common infectious disease in broiler production which has increased in incidence in recent years due to the reduction in the use of antibiotics. Toxins produced by Clostridium perfringens have been identified as the causative agents of NE along with a coccidiosis challenge.  Aflatoxin is a very common mycotoxin that contaminates feedstuffs worldwide. It decreases feed intake and gain as well as causing a general decrease in immune function. This decrease in immune function and general gut damage caused by AFL enables AFL to increase the effects of intestinal diseases such as NE. 

Calibrin®-Z, an all-natural feed ingredient available in select international markets from Amlan® International, has shown the ability to decrease the effects of a broad spectrum of mycotoxins as well as the ability to bind exotoxins and endotoxins produced by bacteria, like the toxins produced by C. perfringens known to cause NE.  For this reason, Calibrin-Z was used in this research study compared to Virginiamycin, a traditional antibiotic used in the poultry industry. 

In this study, there were three challenges: No challenge (control), Necrotic Enteritis challenge (NE), and Necrotic Enteritis + 1.0 ppm aflatoxin (NE+AFL). Each challenge was conducted with control birds (no product), birds with Calibrin-Z (0.5%) in the diet, and birds with Virginiamycin (22 ppm) in the diet.  Eight replicate pens of 22 males of a common breed were placed in floor pens at day of age and grown to 24 days of age. The AFL challenge diets were created by the addition of purified Aflatoxin to the diets. The NE challenge was induced by placing challenge groups on used litter from birds challenged with C. perfringens cultures while non-NE challenged birds were placed on clean litter.  At day 10 the NE challenged birds were given a 10X dose of coccidiosis vaccine. 

As expected, the Body Weight performance worsened with the inclusion of the NE challenge from the control and again with the inclusion of the AFL challenge on top of the NE challenge (NE+AFL).  For Feed Conversion the NE challenge alone did not statistically worsen FCR, however, the NE+AFL challenge was statistically higher than the NE challenge alone. 

Virginiamycin, as an antibiotic commonly used to prevent or treat NE, was very successful in improving KPI’s in the NE-challenged birds, but was less successful when the AFL challenge was added on top of the NE (NE+AFL). Calibrin-Z, however, numerically improved performance in the NE-challenged broilers and statistically improved performance for both Body Weight and FCR in the broilers challenged with both NE and AFL. When FCR is adjusted to a common body weight to account for the reduced weights from the challenge (adjustment = 1 pt FCR per 30g BW), the Calibrin-Z fed broilers performed 3 points better than the Virginiamycin fed broilers and 7 points better than the NE+AFL challenged control broilers. 


During a Necrotic Enteritis challenge in the field, Virginiamycin or Calibrin-Z can both help to decrease the effects of the challenge. In today’s world, where antibiotic usage is being reduced through NAE (No Antibiotics Ever) or NAIHM (No Antibiotics Important for Human Medicine) programs, or simply through responsible product rotation, Calibrin-Z offers an effective natural alternative. It matches the effectiveness of commonly used antibiotics due to its inherent ability to bind the toxins produced by C. perfringens. 

With the addition of Aflatoxin in the feed to challenge the broilers concurrently with NE, which is more common in the real world than any of us wish to believe, the negative performance effects of the NE challenge were significantly increased. Calibrin-Z proved a distinct performance advantage over the antibiotic alone. 

To learn more about Calibrin-Z and how to incorporate it into your production program, or to begin a field trial, contact your local representative at amlan.com  

Company Information 

Amlan is the animal health business of Oil-Dri Corporation of America, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of sorbent minerals. Leveraging over 80 years of expertise in mineral science, Oil-Dri Corporation of America, doing business as “Amlan International,” is a publicly traded stock on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: ODC). AmIan International sells feed additives worldwide. Product availability may vary by country, associated claims do not constitute medical claims, and may differ based on government requirements.