Section 2 | Prevention Strategies for Necrotic Enteritis

Ontario Poultry
Page 09 /

Moving Away from Prophylactic Antimicrobial Use

Now that we’ve reviewed Necrotic Enteritis (NE) – what it is, how it is transmitted, and important risk factors in its development — let’s shift our focus onto strategies for prevention.

A Note on Antimicrobial Use in Food Animals

Bacteria are developing ways to survive in the presence of the drugs (antimicrobials) that were designed to kill them. Inappropriate, excessive, incomplete, or unwarranted use of antimicrobials can contribute to the development and spread of antimicrobial resistance in bacteria. In order to minimize the advancement of resistance, which could lead to a post-antimicrobial era, where these drugs are no longer effective at treating bacterial diseases, everyone who uses antimicrobials — physicians, the public, farmers, veterinarians — must do their part to use them appropriately.


We sat down with broiler producer Alanna Coneybeare, of Conlee Farms Inc. in Listowel, Ontario. She discusses the learning curve associated with the decision to transition her flock to Raised Without Antibiotics. Their operation focuses on gut health to reduce coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis

Prophylactic use of antimicrobials (where medications are provided before animals develop disease to prevent animals them from developing it) has been a mainstay in NE prevention over the years. This large-scale use of antimicrobials is falling out of favour — many experts in public health are concerned that it could potentially increase the reservoir of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in food or the environment that could then spread to humans. With this in mind, the Canadian poultry industry is taking a leading role in crafting The Antimicrobial Use Reduction Strategy:

  • Phase I and II of the strategy have eliminated preventative use of Category I (2017) and Category II (2018) antimicrobials
  • The industry intends to further eliminate the prophylactic use of Category III antimicrobials

See how antimicrobial medications are categorized here.The Canadian Chicken Farmers have developed an animated video to explain more on this initiative:

The focus of this module will be to review the strategies and products that you can use to prevent NE in your flock

Preventing Necrotic Enteritis

The majority of prevention efforts for NE focus on 6 important areas of influence1:

  1. Dietary Control
  2. Controlling Coccidiosis
  3. Promoting a Healthy Immune System
  4. Gut Health
  5. Reducing Exposure to Bacteria in the Environment
  6. Inhibiting Bacterial Growth


  1. Moore RJ. Necrotic enteritis predisposing factors in broiler chickens. Avian Pathol. 2016;45(3):275–81.1.