Necrotic Enteritis in Poultry: Treatment and Prevention

Proven effective in helping birds challenged with necrotic enteritis, Big Ole Bird is a highly concentrated formula that provides poultry with the protection they need through probiotics. The formula improves gut microflora through the introduction of beneficial bacteria, rich organic acids and activated carbon.
enteritis in birds

What is Necrotic enteritis?

Necrotic enteritis in poultry, treatment and prevention

As a poultry farmer, you're probably more familiar with necrotic enteritis (NE)—the disease caused by intestinal overgrowth of Clostridium perfringens Type A and C—than you'd like. According to Diego Paiva and Audrey McElroy's article in the Journal of Applied Poultry Research, "It has been estimated that NE costs the poultry industry $2 billion globally as a result of reduction in bird performance and disease treatment."

Whether or not you've had a personal experience with necrotic enteritis affecting your flock, you've at least heard stories of the destructive effects of the disease from other farmers. That's why it's important to be aware of the signs of necrotic enteritis, and more importantly, be proactive in taking measures to prevent it.

Clinical Signs of Necrotic enteritis

Necrotic enteritis in broiler chickens

While the bacterium C. perfringens is commonly found in soil, dust, feces, feed, used poultry litter and even the digestive tract and intestines of healthy chickens, "the enterotoxemia that leads to clinical signs most often occurs either after a change in the intestinal microflora or as an effect of a condition that results in damage to the intestinal mucosa," according to Dr. Billy M. Hargis's article in the Merck Veterinary Manual.

Comprised of pathogenic bacteria-fighting epithelial cells, the intestinal mucosa is the inner lining of the intestinal tract. If a bird's intestinal mucosa is damaged, it becomes vulnerable to C. perfringens infection, negatively impacting the bird's intestinal health.

Further, " elevated enumeration of C. perfringens by itself is not the cause of NE but must be accompanied by one or more predisposing factors to develop clinical signs and lesions of the pathology," as stated in an Animals article.

According to Diego Paiva and Audrey McElroy's article in the Journal of Applied Poultry Research, possible clinical signs of necrotic enteritis in poultry include depression, ruffled feathers, diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal lesions and a sudden increase in flock mortality. The subclinical form of necrotic enteritis is typically mild and not characterized by these signs. Rather, an overall decrease in performance is the common observation for subclinical cases. Because birds with subclinical necrotic enteritis show fewer signs, these cases are more difficult to diagnose, leading to greater losses.

How to Prevent Necrotic enteritis in Chickens

Big Ole Bird

Big Ole Bird is a highly concentrated formula that provides poultry with the protection they need through probiotics. This drinking water treatment improves gut health through the introduction of beneficial bacteria, rich organic acids and activated carbon.

Big Ole Bird can be given to birds exhibiting symptoms of necrotic enteritis, and it is highly recommended as a preventative measure. When a chicken's natural defense system is strengthened, it is less susceptible to diseases like necrotic enteritis.

Learn more about Big Ole Bird.

Scientific Study of Big Ole Bird vs. Necrotic enteritis

When we founded Southland Organics in 2009, we did it because we knew there were solutions by God’s design in nature for the things that perpetually caused death and disease in our world. When it came to chickens, we focused on building up strong natural defenses by way of the immune system. That’s where Big Ole Bird got its start. 

Over the years, we kept getting amazing reviews. People would say things like, “you’re our secret weapon” or even, “you saved our farm.” While those are amazing things to hear and helping farmers is why we exist, we wanted to further test the science behind these accolades.

Study Details

Earlier this year, we commissioned a third-party performance study to investigate Big Ole Bird’s effectiveness in reducing or eliminating the effects of avian necrotic enteritis caused by Clostridium perfringens.

The chicks were separated into three groups: the control group, the infected control group and the study group. The study group that was challenged and given Big Ole Bird showed a significantly better feed conversion, lower mortality and heavier weights than challenged birds that didn’t receive Big Ole Bird treatment.

Study Results

Chickens challenged with necrotic enteritis and given Big Ole Bird showed:

  • Feed conversion ratio improvement of 16 points

  • Mortality improvement of 6.2%

  • Weight gain improvement of 6.7%

The conclusion of the study proves that Big Ole Bird leads to better feed conversion, lower mortality and greater weight gain in chickens challenged with necrotic enteritis.

How Big Ole Bird Works

Beneficial bacteria, organic acids and active carbon are our three secret ingredients in Big Ole Bird. These elements work together to help the gut microflora thrive, and thus, produce an overall healthier flock. Simply put, Big Ole Bird replenishes birds with living biology and provides valuable activated carbon. The process of cold water extraction leaves not only indigenous biology fully intact but provides an environment for them to rapidly multiply.

Beneficial Microbiota

Our microbes are mostly Bacillus species, which are heartier than other poultry probiotics that only feature Lactobacillus acidophilus and other lactic acid-focused species. Poultry production and poultry performance are greatly increased by live microorganisms.

Big Ole Bird is specially formulated with live bacteria in a vegetative form that prove a positive influence on gut health and gut integrity.

Organic Acids

Most people in commercial poultry production think of a mere acidification of water when they hear "organic acids." While organic acids do provide some acidifying effects, they also provide additional benefits to keep your flock healthy.

Pathogen colonization occurs when harmful microbes, such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli, gather in the intestinal tract and destroy gut integrity. These harmful bacteria then attack the epithelial cells, causing inflammation in both baby chicks and adult chickens. As they attack the epithelial cells, they form a protective biofilm that serves as a physical barrier. Fulvic acid is "wetter than water" and serves as a destroyer of biofilms. Our acids destroy the protective layer produced by the disease-causing organisms. This mechanism assists the birds' natural barrier function for improved immune response.


The carbon baseline for Big Ole Bird binds harmful compounds and boosts gut integrity. This is similar to charcoal, which has been used for thousands of years to improve drinking water and for general detoxification purposes.

Activated carbon is a deeper level as it adsorbs longer chain hydrogen-rich molecules. The activated carbon in Big Ole Bird has shown to adsorb benzenes, chelate nutrients and bind metals. The health benefits for both commercial and backyard poultry is in the adsorption of mycotoxins.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about how to control necrotic enteritis, feel free to reach out to me at or 800-608-3755.

About the Author

Allen Reynolds

Allen Reynolds

Poultry Sales Manager

This was written by Allen Reynolds, Southland Organics’ Poultry Sales Manager. Allen spent years working on poultry farms, from installing equipment to dumping chicks. He has been helping poultry farmers overcome obstacles since 2014, focusing on poultry farm strength in the antibiotic-free environment since 2017. He has traveled thousands of miles and worked closely with hundreds of farmers during his time with Southland Organics. Allen is known by even more farmers from the YouTube channel Poultry Biosecurity, where he regularly appears in videos that educate farmers on topics like bird health and farm business.

Learn more about Allen Reynolds

Erin Flowers

Copywriter and Editor

This was edited by Erin Flowers. As a writer and editor, Erin keeps a close eye on the details. Erin thoroughly researches each topic, fact checking and source searching to give our readers helpful resources for raising chickens, homesteading, and growing lawns and gardens. Erin graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor's degree in advertising. She began working with Southland Organics in 2018.

Learn more about Erin Flowers

Erin Flowers
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