Experiments were carried out to establish an infection and disease model for Clostridium perfringens in broiler chickens. Previous experiments had failed to induce disease and only a transient colonization with challenge strains had been obtained. In the present study, two series of experiments were conducted, each involving four groups of chickens with each group kept in separate isolators. A coccidial vaccine given at 10 times the prescribed dosage was used to promote the development of necrotic enteritis. In the first experiment, cultures of C. perfringens were mixed with the feed at day 9, 10, 11, and 12, and the coccidial vaccine was given at day 10, whereas in the second experiment, C. perfringens cultures were mixed with the feed at day 17, 18, 19, and 20, and the coccidial vaccine was given at day 18. Chickens were examined at day 9, 11, 12, and 15 (Experiment 1), and at day 17, 18, 20, and 24 (Experiment 2). There was no mortality in any of the groups; however, chickens in the groups receiving both coccidial vaccine and C. perfringens developed the subclinical form of necrotic enteritis, demonstrated by focal necroses in the small intestine, whereas chickens in control groups or groups receiving only coccidial vaccine or only C. perfringens cultures developed no necroses. The results underline the importance of predisposing factors in the development of necrotic enteritis.
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Vol. 52 • No. 1