Runting-stunting syndrome (RSS) in poultry has been known for more than 40 years, but the precise etiology remains unknown and a licensed vaccine is consequently not currently available. In order to mitigate the symptoms associated with RSS, a series of experiments was performed to investigate whether a combined bacteriotherapeutic treatment consisting of probiotics, prebiotics, and organic acids could influence the outcome of this disease. Initially two groups of commercial broiler chickens were either left uninoculated or inoculated with filtrate from homogenized intestines of RSS-affected broiler chickens. One group from each of these two challenge groups was treated, with a bacteriotherapeutic regimen. After 12 days chickens were euthanatized, the body weight was measured, and duodenal lesions were enumerated. Five consecutive broiler chicken flocks were then raised either on litter from RSS-affected birds or on fresh wood shavings. Treatment had no beneficial effect on the number and severity of intestinal lesions. There appeared to be a significant build-up of RSS agent(s) in poultry litter, with each consecutive flock placement, independent of bacteriotherapeutic treatment, as more individuals exhibited intestinal lesions on built-up litter in RSS-affected houses (28.9% vs. 44%). While treatment did not appear to consistently reduce intestinal lesions, it did significantly improve the mean body weights (P < 0.05) and uniformity of 12-day-old chickens placed on reused litter in houses in which RSS-infected birds were previously raised. A combination of litter management and bacteriotherapy may be needed to ameliorate the adverse effects of RSS on intestinal health and body weight in broiler chickens.
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Vol. 59 • No. 2