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Non-starter and 'Starve-out's

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Introduction

This is a condition seen worldwide in young chickens and turkeys due to failure to begin normal food consumption. Morbidity is up to 10% and mortality close to 100%. It is commonest in progeny of young parent flocks (relatively small yolks) or where managers are inexperienced, and is associated with difficulty maintaining brooding temperature and poor management of feeders and drinkers. Acute viral infections or heavily contaminated drinking water may have a similar effect to bad management in reducing feed intake. Mortality peaks at 3-5 days for birds that fail to eat at all, whereas it tends to peak between 6-10 days for chicks that begin eating but then cease.

Signs

  • Failure to grow.

Post-mortem lesions

  • Crop empty.
  • Most organs normal.
  • Poor development.
  • Gall bladder distended, bile staining of adjacent tissues.
  • Gizzard may be impacted with litter.

Diagnosis

Based on post-mortem lesions. Differentiate from omphalitis/ yolk sac infection, aspergillosis.

Treatment

Correction of management problems, soluble multivitamin supplementation may help.

Prevention

Review brooding management, nutrition of young parents, age of collection and weight of hatching eggs, good drinking water hygiene, good hygiene and biosecurity in brooding areas to minimise early disease challenges.