Intestinal Integrity Index Scores Can Unveil Health Conditions in Poultry Flocks

Poultry production is becoming increasingly integrated, and data is revolutionizing how poultry producers can overcome health challenges and production roadblocks. With the growing demand for protein globally, producers are tasked every day to ensure operations are efficient and birds are performing to their full potential. Data can pinpoint health conditions within a flock, and producers can more precisely manage flock health and introduce timely intervention strategies.

Producers can track and benchmark the health of broilers and turkeys over time using the Intestinal Integrity Index (I² Index). These health and performance insights can contribute to data-driven flock health management in several ways:
• The score correlates to performance. As the I² Index score decreases, so will bird performance on average.
• The I² Index score helps producers understand which lesions are having a specific impact on birds, enabling more targeted interventions.
• Monitoring and benchmarking I² Index scores over time helps identify trends that may have an impact on future bird performance.

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.

To generate an I² Index score for a flock, the presence of 23 intestinal health conditions, such as gizzard erosion, necrotic enteritis and excessive intestinal fluid, is assessed and recorded, then entered into a mathematical equation. These intestinal conditions are all monitored and measured by necropsy during routine HTSi postings.

Each lesion or condition is assigned a specific score and weight based on a clear scoring guide, and collectively these weights create a custom, composite number that is entered into the HTSi database.

Scores range from 0 to 100, with a score of 100 representing no detection of lesions or compromise to the intestinal health of the bird. Each of the lesions scored within the I² Index is weighted based on the degree of detrimental impact it is estimated to have on intestinal health. Intestinal health is a key driver of broiler and turkey performance, so it is ideal to have scores as close to 100 as possible.

Knowing your intestinal integrity score isn’t enough

The I2 Index not only monitors and tracks intestinal integrity issues but can also help producers understand how intervention strategies are performing. Having access to an overall measure of gut health can help producers prioritize and direct interventions in a way that not only improves bird health but improves the performance of the birds and the business.

Just knowing the I² Index score of your birds is not enough. This is where the conversation and consultation begin and where Elanco can truly add value. Elanco Technical Consultants can help producers interpret the data, identify what lesions are driving the scores, and provide specific recommendations or approaches.