Efficacy of a competitive exclusion culture against extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing Escherichia coli strains in broilers using a seeder bird model
Background Administration of a competitive exclusion culture (CE culture) has the potential to induce protective effects in very young chicks against caecal colonisation by EEC (= extended-spectrum β-lactamases [ESBL] and AmpC-type [AmpC] beta-lactamases producing Escherichia coli). The study aimed to verify the protective capacity of a CE culture in broilers using the seeder bird model against EEC exposure of the chicks. Results Introduction of infected seeder birds resulted in rapid and strong caecal colonisation of four different EEC challenge strains tested in untreated contact broilers. Compared to controls the broilers pre-treated with the CE culture showed a considerable decrease in caecal load of different EEC challenge strains from about 3.0–3.5 log10 units (P < 0.05) on day 9 of life to 2.5–3.0 log10 units (P < 0.05) on day 37. A slightly higher protective level of the CE culture in layer birds than in broilers raises the question on reasons for possible differences in the efficacy of CE culture in broiler and layer breeds. Whether the diet’s protein content has an impact on both normal intestinal flora composition and the efficacy of CE cultures against EEC or other pathogens remains open and needs further elucidation. Conclusions Our findings suggest that CE cultures of undefined composition can be valuable to reduce the intestinal colonisation by EEC in newly hatched broilers.