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Femoral Head Necrosis - FHN

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Introduction

A condition of chickens and turkeys that may be associated with several different bacterial infections e.g. staphylococci, E. coli, streptococci. FHN is the commonest infectious cause of lameness in broilers in the UK. Post-mortem studies of birds culled due to lameness and of birds found dead, indicated that 0.75% of all male broilers placed had lesions in the hip bone. Predisposing factors include immunosuppresive viruses such as Infectious Bursal Disease Virus and Chicken Anaemia Virus and non-infectious bone pathologies such as hypophosphaetamic rickets.

Signs

  • Lameness.
  • Use of a wing for support during walking and hip flexion.

Post-mortem lesions

  • Degeneration of the epiphyses of long bones with thinning of the cortex and tendency to break when force is applied.

Diagnosis

Base on post-mortem lesions and isolation of a causative organism. Differentiate from synovitis, arthritis, spondylolisthesis.

Treatment

Antibiotic therapy in accordance with sensitivity is likely to be beneficial only for birds in the early stage of this process and may not be economically justifiable.

Prevention

Exclusion of floor eggs and dirty eggs from the hatchery. Careful attention to mineral and Vitamin D nutrition to avoid subclinical, especially hypophosphataemic, rickets.