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NC Broiler Supervisor's Short Course Covers New Ground

by 5m Editor
15 October 2010, at 12:00am

A report of this year's North Carolina Broiler Supervisor's Short Course by Dr Edgar O. Oviedo-Rondón, assistant professor and broiler extension specialist at North Carolina State University in the Fall 2010 edition of the North Carolina Poultry Industry Joint Area Newsletter.

In April, the service tech personnel from the main integrator broiler companies with business in North Carolina participated in the 2010 North Carolina Broiler Supervisor's Short Course. This is an annual event that has been held at the McSwain Extension Center in Sanford, North Carolina. The panel of speakers included Dr John Barnes and Dr Edgar Oviedo from NC State University, Dr Tim Cummings from Mississippi State University, Jesse McCoy from IVESCO, Dr Doug Overhults from University of Kentucky, and Richard Goforth and Kathy Bunton from NC Cooperative Extension Service.

This year, the programme included talks related to diseases commonly seen in broilers in North Carolina, control of footpad dermatitis, experiences with antibiotic-free production, biosecurity between flocks, broiler farm energy assessments and methods to improve energy efficiency and results of using dimmable fluorescents in broiler houses.

Common Diseases in North Carolina Broiler Flocks

Dr Barnes and Dr Tahseen A. Aziz from the Rollins Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (NCDA) commented that chick quality and early mortality are the most common causes of complaints from growers. In older broilers, cases of viral respiratory disease, often caused by infectious bronchitis virus and/or mild strains of Newcastle virus, have increased this past year. Among intestinal diseases, coccidiosis remains most common. Diseases affecting the musculo-skeletal system have emerged in the past few years.

Enterococcal vertebral osteoarthritis is a bacterial infection of the spine that causes lameness, primarily in males. Market-age broilers found on their backs and unable to right themselves ('turtle birds') have been found to have green muscle disease affecting the breast muscles, which is likely the source of 'green tenders' seen at further processing.

Dr Oviedo discussed the importance, origin of, and control methods for foot pad dermatitis. To reduce prevalence of this production and welfare problem, the main objective in management should be to keep litter moisture in the 25 to 35 per cent range and reduce ammonia production in the whole house.

Experiences with Antibiotic-Free Production

Dr Cummings discussed management practices followed by many poultry companies that have a small portion of their production dedicated to an antibiotic-free programme. The major disease problem common to these types of programmes is necrotic enteritis, although different companies have varying levels. He indicated that in some instances, performance can be quite good in antibiotic-free birds but a total management programme needs to be implemented to make it work.

Dr Cummings recommended constant vigilance and attention to details for the antibiotic-free birds as there is no single, magic bullet in preventing enteric problems.

Biosecurity Measures between Flocks

Mr McCoy emphasised that cleaning and disinfecting a facility is very important to keep pathogen loading to a minimum. To obtain these benefits, McCoy indicated the importance of selecting cleaner and disinfectants that suit specific farm conditions. An analysis of the pathogens to be targeted and the materials at the farm will allow for proper selection and application of these products. After cleaning the premises, it is important to clear the lines of any build up of bacteria as well. Analysis of the water at the site will aid in proper line cleaning selection.

Mr McCoy demonstrated that none of these products will work if they are not applied at the correct rate and given enough contact time.

Farm Energy Assessment

Dr Overhults gave two talks to present the work that his group has been doing in Kentucky. His programme does broiler farm energy assessments or audits to review the house, equipment and the operation of various systems during the flock grow-out. The primary goal of these assessments is to identify areas where energy use can be reduced or energy efficiency improved by making cost effective improvements.

Dr Overhults indicated that at least two years of previous energy use and production data should be compiled to establish a broiler farm's baseline energy use, a critical element of the energy assessment.

A useful measure of broiler farm energy efficiency is the total fuel or electricity used per pound of bird produced. Once a series of house improvements are made, one good way to track or compare energy use is to use a two or three year running average of energy use per pound of bird produced.

Dr Overhults also presented the work done to evaluate fan efficiency in farms and all possible factors that reduce fan performance.

Using Dimmable Compact Florescent Bulbs

Finally, Richard Goforth presented the results of evaluations made using dimmable compact florescent bulbs to replace the inefficient incandescent bulbs in broiler houses. The data presented indicated that broiler performance is not affected by using these more efficient and long lasting light bulbs.

Mr Goforth discussed that even though the initial cost of investment is relatively high, growers should start considering alternative and more efficient light bulbs since incandescent bulbs are planned for a phase out starting in 2012 with the 100-watt bulbs and progress to lower wattages with a final phase out in 2014 with all incandescent bulbs.

2010 Broiler Service Persons Awards

During the same event the 2010 Broiler Service Persons Awards were announced. This award is recognition of the Integrator Companies, the NC Poultry Federation, and NC State University to those individuals that have done an outstanding service for the Companies and their growers in the previous year. The following is a picture of the recipients with Dr Samuel Pardue, Head of the Department of Poultry Science and Bob Ford, Director of the NC Poultry Federation.


left to right: Dr Edgar Oviedo (NC State University), Mike Ogburn (Perdue Farms – Candor), Barry Thompson (Mountaire Farms), Derek Bean (Mountaire Farms), Darrell Ritter (Townsends, Inc. – Siler City), Brad Gee (Pilgrims Pride – Sanford), Dr Sam Pardue (NC State University), and Bob Ford (Exec Director, NC Poultry Federation). Award winners not present were Roger Key (Tyson/Wilkesboro) and Matthew Lane (Wayne Farms).


October 2010