Lyon - April 2013 - Merial Animal Health brought to life its pledge to work in partnership with the global avian industry in its recent Avian Forum in Istanbul. The event was attended by 500 delegates from 73 countries who took part in sessions on ‘Future Challenges of the Poultry Industry’.

The conference sessions also reflected the key components of the ‘Merial Gear Partnership’, which was launched at the forum, and concentrated on ‘Immune Foundation and Early Protection in Chickens’, ‘Maximising Genetic Potential’, and ‘Performance Achievement and Food Safety’.

Merial has a strong product range and continues to develop products to help meet the future challenges in markets across the world, but just having the right products is not enough. We are providing a greater service element to what we do including the provision of new equipment to help increase efficiency and productivity for our customers. Partnership is at the heart of what we are doing - working with our customers, vets, and others in the industry to help meet the challenges of increased demand for broilers and layers across the world. The Merial Avian Forum is just one part of our strategy to invest in the industry as whole. It has been a tremendous opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and hear about their experiences, as well as to share the expertise of a wide range of authoritative speakers.

Jérôme Baudon, Head of Global Strategic Marketing Avian for Merial

In its three sessions the Forum explored many aspects of production and health, as well as touching on aspects of the supply chain that are critical for producers to understand. Leading experts talked about the foundations of immunity and how vaccine works, as well as exploring the efficacy of particular vaccines and vaccinations programmes.

There were also presentations on some of the key threats such as Avian Influenza, Newcastle Disease, Gumboro disease, Infectious Bronchitis, Salmonella and Campylobacter, and representatives from all the major global genetics companies talked on the subject of ‘Correlation of Immune Foundation and Health Status with genetic expression’. Speakers from the processing and retail ends of the supply chain described the challenges of production and meeting the demands of today’s sophisticated consumers.

Notes to Editors

A summary of the presentations given during the Forum is attached.  Abstracts of the papers given are available on request.

Hi-res photos are available on request.

About Merial

Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 6000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2012 sales were €2.2 billion ($2.8 billion). 

Merial is a Sanofi company.

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Summary of Speaker Papers at the Merial Avian Forum

Meeting Consumer Challenges

The first speaker at the Forum represented the consumer end of the supply chain. Barry Barnett from Church’s Chicken, which trades as Texas Chicken outside the USA, provided an excellent start to the event. As well as giving the background to this rapidly growing chain, he pointed out the increasing importance of food safety and quality. He also outlined the challenges of modern consumers who are looking for improved traceability. This, combined with increased communication through channels such as social media, means the consequences of not delivering on the consumer promise can be disastrous.

Immune System in Embryos and Young Chicks

Professor Bernd Kaspers from Munich University spoke on ‘The Importance of the Immune System from Embryos to Young Chicks’, and described how the innate immune system and then the adaptive immune system developed. Donna Hill from HatchTech in the Netherlands gave a presentation on ‘Day-Old Chick Health’ and emphasised that, while chick quality at hatch is important, the job of creating good chick quality is only partially complete when incubation is finished.

Improved Efficacy against IBD

Two speakers from Merial Animal Health spoke about Vaxxitek® HVT+IBD, and vectored HVT-ND vaccines compared to classical vaccines. Research Program Leader Michel Bublot spoke about the mechanisms of action for these different types of vaccines, while Head of Biological Project Management described the outcome of vaccination programmes against IBD and Newcastle Disease. Both the research programme and field study demonstrated improvement in control of IBD using vectored vaccines, but showed little improvement against Newcastle Disease .

Merial Vaccination Services at the Hatchery

Dr. Chris Fritts, Poultry Science Research Manager for Merial’s Global Vaccination Technology spoke about the overall industry trend of vaccination moving from the field to the hatchery. To support the increase requirement for hatchery vaccination, Merial provides a wide range of hatchery vaccination equipment including in-ovo andsubcutaneous injectors, spray cabinets, hand held sprayers, eye droppers and hand held syringes.

Poultry House Environmental Management

The second session on ‘Maximizing Genetic Potential’ began with a presentation on ‘Current Trends in Broiler Technology and Management’ by Professor Michael Czarick. Professor Czarick specializes in poultry house environmental management and provided a fascinating insight into methods of controlling poultry house temperature and ventilation. Steve Pritchard from Premier Nutrition returned to the issue of high feed prices and the need to optimize inputs, particularly with modern birds with improved genetic potential.

Why do we still have Newcastle Disease?

Dr. Guillermo Zavala from Georgia University spoke about Newcastle Disease and asked the question: ‘Why after so much vaccination do we still have so much Newcastle Disease?’ Among the reasons that he suggested were biosecurity and infrastructure, failures of vaccines or vaccination practice, bird and manure handling, poor control of immunosuppressive disease, and the emergence of multiple genotypes of Newcastle Disease.

Overview of Avian Influenza

Dr. Ian Brown of the AHVLA in the UK gave a comprehensive overview of the current state of affairs with regard to Avian Influenza. He said that AI is becoming an increasing problem for global poultry industry. He said that the impact of the highly pathogenic H5N1 alone has been estimated to be in excess of $20 billion to the global economy with over 400 million poultry culled or killed due to infection.

Overview of IBV

Dr. Brown’s colleague Richard Irvine provided an overview of the epidemiology of Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) and information relating to detection, diagnosis, impacts and prevention of IBV. He also highlighted the fact that IBV is a disease of major economic importance to the industry.

Merial Vaccination Technology in the Field

Merial’s Vaccination Technology Manager for EMEA Region, Ludovic Porcher reviewed the equipment available for field vaccination. Despite the movement of more vaccinations from the field to the hatchery, field vaccinations remain critical and Merial has introduced a variety of technology to make field vaccination easier and more efficient. He described a variety of equipment including syringes and spray vaccinators. 

Major Breeding Companies

In the final session of the conference on ‘Performance Achievement and Food Safety’, Merial was delighted to welcome representatives of the major breeding companies to the Forum including Aviagen, Cobb, Hubbard, Hy-Line, ISA-Hendrix and Lohmann Tierzucht. All the speakers took different approaches to the subject of the ‘Correlation of immune foundation and health status with genetic expression’.

Broiler Meat Production

This last session was completed by a presentation from Dr. Sarge Bigili who provided an insight into broiler chicken meat production, and the way that performance is measured at processing. He made the point that since the processing plant is the only profit centre in an integrated broiler company, continued emphasis on product safety, quality, welfare and yield is economically crucial.

Challenges of Campylobacter jejuni and Salmonella enteritidis

Dr. Paul Wigley from Liverpool University talked about the main challenges in poultry meat and egg safety in terms of Campylobacter jejuniand Salmonella enteritidis.  He spoke of the need to avoid complacency with regard to Salmonella despite the strides that have been taken in its reduction in the UK. He also pointed out that in contrast the number of cases of Campylobacter  have continued to rise with poultry meat being considered by far the largest source of infection.

Also on the subject of Salmonella, Antonia Ricci, the Director of the Food Safety Department at Istituto Zooprofilattico dell Venezie in Italy, spoke on the EU Experience.

Vector Vaccine Success in Practice

The final two presentations of the Forum look at the performance of HVT-IBD Vector vaccine (Vaxxitek®HVT+IBD). Veterinarian Miguel Alonso Castro described a study on 24 broiler flocks carried out in Spain in 2012. The flocks were split into a control group that received a live vaccine of immune-complexes in ovo, and a Vaxxitek group, which received Vaxxitek® HVT+IBD in ovo. The overall conclusion of the study was that vector vaccine (Vaxxitek) applied in ovo where there is high pressure of IBD, is associated with improvement in production parameters at farm and slaughterhouse.

Dr. Luis Alberto Botero, Scientific Director of Avidesa MacPollo, S.A. Colombia spoke of his company’s experience in trialling Vaxxitek HVT+IBD. Very virulent strains of IBD had reduced the effectiveness of the company’s use of live attenuated vaccines against Gumboro Disease. The results of the trials showed performance improvements in all measures including body weight, daily weight gain, feed conversions rate, mortality, and condemnations. Dr. Botero also said that the change reduced reliance on antibiotics, and improved response to vaccines against Newcastle Disease and Infectious Bronchitis.

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