Intestinal Integrity Scores Provide Key Bird Performance Insights


While it is clear that gut health in broilers has an impact on bird performance, it is not always easy to quantify and effectively track this. Data and analytic tools can offer
poultry producers insights to more precisely manage flock health and introduce timely, location-specific intervention strategies. One such tool is the Intestinal Integrity Index (I2 Index) which provides an overall picture or metric of broiler and turkey intestinal integrity.

Poultry producers can benefit from the I 2 Index in several ways:

• It simplifies a complex set of intestinal lesions into one easy-to-digest score for gut health
• The score correlates to performance. As the I2 score decreases, on average, so will bird
• Helps producers understand which lesions are having a specific impact on birds, enabling more
targeted interventions
• Monitoring and benchmarking intestinal integrity scores over time help identify trends that may have an impact on future bird performance

“The I2 Index considers more than just coccidiosis lesion scores,” says Dr. George Gould a Global Technical Advisor for Poultry with Elanco Animal Health. “It measures 23 intestinal conditions such as gizzard erosion, necrotic enteritis, and excessive intestinal fluid. These intestinal conditions are monitored and measured by necropsy during routine health tracking postings.”

Each lesion or condition is assigned a specific score and weighted based on the degree of detrimental impact it is estimated to have on intestinal health. Collectively these weighted scores create a custom, composite number that provides insight into a specific flock’s intestinal health. Scores can range from 0 to 100. A score of 100 represents no detection of lesions or compromise to the intestinal health of the bird.

Predicting the Impact of Intestinal Integrity on Performance
I2 Index scores are calculated within the Elanco Health Tracking System (HTSi), a comprehensive database integrating more than 20 years of data and more than 600,000 individual bird post-mortem analyses.

With the assistance of an Elanco Technical Consultant, producers can track and benchmark the health of their birds over time, evaluate a broad range of health conditions and identify potential health issues early. These health and performance insights can be a contributor to data-driven flock health management and help identify which lesions are causing health issues. This leads to more strategic and targeted interventions.

For example, a posting session may identify intestinal lesions that lower the I2 Index score of a flock from 100 to 90. Previous HTSi data analysis has found that a one-point decrease in the I2 score has been shown to drop the feed conversion ratio (FCR) by 0.0013. Therefore, an I2 Index score of 90 could indicate a loss of 1.3 points of FCR, which in modern-day production equates to around one cent of additional cost per bird.1

The value and relevance of the I2 Index is that it can quantify and effectively track the impact of gut health on bird performance. An independent study demonstrated that the intestinal integrity is correlated with many of the key performance indicators (KPIs) broiler producers are concerned about — ADG, FCR, mortality during the first week and percent livability.2

By confirming and quantifying the relationship between gut health and performance in broilers, poultry producers are able to use HTSi and the I2 Index score as a valuable tool in identifying, implementing and monitoring continuous improvement strategies in their flocks.

“That is the value of the I2 Index. It not only monitors and tracks intestinal integrity issues but can help producers understand how intervention strategies are performing,” says Gould. “Having access to an overall measure of gut health — that has been independently proven to correlate with the KPIs producers use to measure flock performance — can help them prioritize and direct interventions in a way that not only improves bird health but improves the performance of the birds and the business.”

Knowing the Intestinal Integrity Score Isn’t Enough
If a producer is enrolled in the HTSi program, they will receive an I 2 Index score on every bird posted and a report by flock. However, just knowing the I2 Index score of your birds is not enough. Using personalized business insights combined with a data matrix, Elanco technical consultants add value by suggesting science-based solutions.

The Elanco Technical Consultants have expertise in poultry health and specifically intestinal integrity; through this knowledge we can help producers interpret the data, identify what lesions are driving the scores, and provide specific recommendations or approaches, such as designing appropriate coccidiosis control strategies, litter management, chick management, ventilation, etc. to enhance the intestinal health of broilers and turkeys.

Producers can contact their Elanco technical consultant to learn more about the Intestinal Integrity Index Score and the Elanco Health Tracking System.

1 Elanco Animal Health: Findings from multi-year, global study on enteric health revealed at 2016 Poultry Science Association
Annual Meeting.
2 The use of large databases to inform the development of an intestinal scoring system for the poultry industry. H. Kasab-Bachi H et
al Prev Vet Med 2017 130 (v1.0), A.G. Arruda, T.E. Roberts, J.B. Wilson