OptiVacVleeskip Project

22/03/2021 - 10:49

Using optimal vaccination to reduce the use of antibiotics in broilers

About the project

OptiVacVleeskip is a demonstration project of Pehestat and Proefbedrijf Pluimveehouderij that supports poultry farmers to reduce the use of antibiotics on their farms through preventive measures. The project runs from 1 March 2021 to 28 February 2023 and receives Flemish and European funding.


The project demonstrates the possibilities of optimising vaccination strategies in order to achieve better animal and intestinal health and welfare in broilers, thereby reducing the use of antibiotics. A first work package includes an analysis of the available historical data. This will allow to identify factors leading to high antibiotic use, detect bottlenecks and propose possible improvements. The currently used vaccination schemes are evaluated. From this analysis a number of cases will be determined around which practical demonstrations will be set up. Subsequently, detailed protocols for the correct implementation of vaccinations will be drawn up.

Demonstrations of vaccination strategies will take place at the Proefbedrijf Pluimveehouderij. In addition, a series of practical farms will be monitored. Depending on the company-specific circumstances (environmental pressure, company problems - e.g. coccidiosis -, health of the mother animals), the animal health and the vaccination scheme are evaluated. Subsequently, it will be demonstrated how the poultry farmer can achieve better animal health and lower antibiotic use through targeted vaccination. A cost-benefit analysis gives the poultry farmer insight into the effect of a change in vaccination strategy on business profitability.


Due to increasing antibiotic resistance, the livestock industry is under great social pressure to significantly reduce the use of antibiotics in its animals. Conventional meat chickens are frequently confronted with a number of diseases that negatively affect animal health, animal welfare and technical performance. Antibiotics are mainly used for the treatment of infections of the intestinal and/or locomotor system, but also for the treatment of secondary infections (e.g. coli).

Furthermore, a thorough preventive approach is necessary to achieve the AMCRA antibiotic reduction targets by 2024. In addition to management and biosecurity, vaccination is a very important preventive measure. However, the vaccinations applied do not always give the desired result. An optimisation of the vaccination strategy is therefore urgently needed.

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