Restrictions on the use of antibiotics in poultry production have increased interest in nonantibiotic alternatives to control necrotic enteritis (NE). Volatile fatty acids, and in particular butyric acid preparations, have shown potential as aids in controlling NE. Valeric acid compounds may be a new additional alternative. This series of three trials compared the effects of tributyrin, monovalerin, which is an organic acid mixture, and bacitracin in a NE challenge model consisting of challenge with coccidiosis followed by Clostridium perfringens. Trial 1 was a pen trial comparing tributyrin at 0.5 kg/metric ton continuously in the feed, a proprietary organic acid blend at 1 kg per 1000 L as a metaphylactic treatment in the water, and bacitracin in the feed at 55 g/metric ton. Tributyrin and the organic acid mixture were at least as effective as bacitracin in controlling the growth- and efficiency-suppressing effects of the NE challenge, and the organic acid mixture reduced NE lesion scores. None of the treatments reduced mortality. Trial 2 was a battery study comparing monovalerin at 1.5 kg/metric ton and bacitracin in the feed. Both interventions provided significant control of both clinical and subclinical NE, with bacitracin being slightly superior to monovalerin. Trial 3 was a pen trial comparing monovalerin at 1 kg or 1.5 kg/metric ton continuously, or 0.5 kg/metric ton from 0 to 14 days and 0.25 kg/metric ton from 14 to 42 days (variable dose), to tributyrin at the same variable-dose schedule. The higher dose of monovalerin appeared to suppress feed intake and weight gain prechallenge but also produced the lowest NE mortality and the lowest total mortality of the challenged groups. All of the treatments except the variable-dose monovalerin treatment demonstrated reductions in NE lesion scores compared with the positive challenge control group; however, they did not control mortality and had fewer effects on the performance effects of subclinical NE. Results of these studies indicate that the organic acid products monovalerin and tributyrin may be useful adjuncts to reduce NE in antibiotic-free broiler production.

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