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Spiking Mortality of Chickens

Introduction

This is a condition characterised by a sudden increase in mortality in young, typically 7-14-day-old, rapidly growing broiler chickens. Birds in good condition die after showing neurological signs. Mortality drops off as sharply as it started. This appears to be a multifactorial condition. Feed intake, and/or carbohydrate absorption are disturbed resulting in a hypoglycaemia. Males are more susceptible than females, probably because they are growing faster. Filtered intestinal contents from affected flocks appear to be capable of reproducing the condition, suggesting a viral component. In order to reproduce the typical condition the affected birds are subject to 4 hours without feed and then a mild physical stress such as spraying with cool water.

Signs

  • Tremor.
  • Paralysis.
  • Coma.
  • Death.
  • Orange mucoid droppings.

Post-mortem lesions

  • Mild enteritis.
  • Excess fluid in lower small intestine and caecae.
  • Dehydration.

Diagnosis

  • Pattern of mortality.
  • Signs and lesions.

Treatment

  • Leave affected chicks undisturbed.
  • Provide multivitamins, electrolytes and glucose solution to flock.
  • Minimise stress.

Prevention

Good sanitation of the brooding house.
Avoidance of interruptions in feed supply.
Avoidance of physical stress.