The 7th International Conference of Poultry Intestinal Health, ICPIH, took place in Cartagena De Indias, Columbia, in March 30 – April 1, 2022. This lovely, colorful old town, a UNESCO world’s heritage site, is situated on the shores of the Caribbean sea, inviting the congress attendees for excursions to the town and  also to the sea and nearby islands.

The congress center of Cartagena offers one of the most well-equipped auditorium and conference facilities in South America, so the surroundings were perfect for the event. As always, the ICPIH organizing team created a welcoming atmosphere and a scientifically very interesting program. A total of 778 attendees, both live and online participants, followed the presentations which were also recorded. The event also provided an excellent opportunity for networking with scientists and companies working in the area of poultry gut health. Hankkija Finnish Feed Innovations was a silver sponsor to the congress.

The eight keynote lectures by distinguished scientists covered different aspects of poultry gut health, from viral diseases to mucosal immunity, and from Salmonella colonization to animal welfare issues. Other topics included e.g. microbiota-host -interactions, parasitic diseases of poultry, and in vitro and in vivo -models to study gut health.

Understanding the pathogenesis of necrotic enteritis is a key success factor in maintaining the gut health of poultry in antibiotic-free production. Dr. Evy Goossens from the University of Ghent, Belgium, suggested in her keynote lecture that there is actually two types of necrotic enteritis: hemorrhagic and non-hemorrhagic. While the non-hemorrhagic form is caused by NetB toxin -producing Clostridium perfringens strains, the toxins involved in the hemorrhagic form are not known. According to Dr. Goossens, rather than focusing scientific efforts into understanding the late pathogenesis of necrotic enteritis, more attention should be directed into finding ways to reduce the early colonization of virulent strains of C. perfringens.    

One of the main topics, emerging in several keynote presentations, was the reduction of the usage of antibiotic growth promoters for poultry. If not backed up by alternative means to control intestinal inflammation and pathogenic microbes, removing AGPs often leads in to gut health problems, reduced feed efficiency and bird performance, and thus a higher carbon footprint per bird.

According to the keynote lecturer Professor Randall Singer from the University of Minnesota, US, the consumers tend to think that bird wellbeing is improved when less AGPs are used, while the farmers more likely have an opposite view. Prof. Singer emphasized that rather than focusing on cutting antibiotic usage as such, the target should be to reduce the need for using antibiotics.

Offering functioning alternatives for AGPs, and preventative tools for decreasing the risk of gastrointestinal problems, is a substantial task for the scientific community and feed additive companies. To meet this challenge, many companies presented their approaches for better gut health of poultry as posters or short presentations.  

Dr. Hannele Kettunen from Hankkija FFI presented two studies on the effects of in-feed resin acids for improved intestinal condition of broiler chickens and laying hens. The posters were titled “Dietary tall oil fatty acids improved egg shell quality and reduced the proportion of dirty eggs in laying hens with or without salt stress challenge” and “Effects of in-feed resin acid concentrate on growth performance and ileal gene expression of broiler chickens”.