The objective of this systematic review was to evaluate the efficacy of antibiotics to prevent or control colibacillosis in broilers. Studies found eligible were conducted controlled trials in broilers that evaluated an antibiotic intervention, with at least one of the following outcomes: mortality, feed conversion ratio (FCR), condemnations at slaughter, or total antibiotic use. Four electronic databases plus the gray literature were searched. Abstracts were screened for eligibility and data were extracted from eligible trials. Risk of bias was evaluated.
Seven trials reported eligible outcomes in a format that allowed data extraction; all reported results for FCR and one also reported mortality. Due to the heterogeneity in the interventions and outcomes evaluated, it was not feasible to conduct meta-analysis.
Qualitatively, for FCR, comparisons between an antibiotic and an alternative product did not show a significant benefit for either. Some of the comparisons between an antibiotic and a no-treatment placebo showed a numerical benefit to antibiotics, but with wide confidence intervals. The risk-of-bias assessment revealed concerns with reporting of key trial features.
The results of this review do not provide compelling evidence for or against the efficacy of antibiotics for the control of colibacillosis.