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Poultry Discussion Group Tackles Flock Disease

by 5m Editor
16 April 2009, at 9:22am

UK - The next meeting of the Severn Valley Poultry Discussion Group on 29 April will be on flock health, with particular focus on the results of recent research into the pathogenicity of the Brachyspira species.

The discussion will also provide advice to poultry farmers on the dangers posed by vectors of disease such as flies and other insects, why flies need to be controlled and techniques to help achieve this.

Anthony Harman, Regional Sales Manager for Humphrey Feeds and Committee Secretary for the discussion group said: "We have had two meetings so far with nearly 100 participants at both. The poultry industry succeeds because those who operate in it are good at working together to achieve common goals and understand each other’s roles. The Severn Valley Discussion Group is a good example of that. My job involves giving the very best help and technical advice to egg producers to get the best return from their flocks. This group is a great way for producers to meet and share ideas and techniques on how to achieve this.

"We have invited Novartis Animal Health to sponsor the next meeting and contribute their latest findings on flock health, with the specific focus on flies, and other insect related diseases.

"It promises to be a very useful and interesting discussion."

The guest speakers at the meeting will be:

  • Dr Kai Sievert, Global Head of Technical Services for the Novartis Bioprotection range. Dr Sievert is a leading entomologist, who is particularly interested in flies and insects as vectors of disease, and will explain why flies need to be controlled.
  • David Burch is a veterinary consultant from Octagon Services, and will be presenting the latest findings relating to the pathogenicity of the Brachyspira species.

Latest Research into Brachyspira

As a pre-cursor to the Severn Valley Poultry Discussion Group meeting, Veterinary Consultant David Burch talks about his findings, and how Brachyspira causes more damage to flock performance, especially in free range, than previously thought: “This latest survey was carried out on 220 farms,” enthuses Mr Burch “historically Brachyspira has not been recognised as a problem in poultry production but for the past four or five years the focus has shifted dramatically.

“The organisms live in the ceacum of the birds gut and colonise there – what we wanted to find out is which species of Brachyspira are pathogenic and therefore damaging and which are not. We have known about non pathogenic Brachyspira for many years and it can sit in the gut and not damage production. This was especially the case in many infected cage birds.

“This research has allowed us to identify different species of the disease, through studying its DNA, and identify which are pathogenic and which are non-pathogenic. The results also show that certain species previously thought to be non-pathogenic in cage birds can be associated with reduced egg production in free range flocks.

“The bulk of depressed production in free range birds can be, in part, attributed to certain species of Brachyspira. It is widely known that free range birds produce fewer eggs than Cage birds, and that mortality rates are higher in free range, but the link with this disease as a major contributing factor to both egg production and bird mortality has never been fully realised before” says Mr Burch.

“The figures we have found are surprising: 70 per cent of all laying flocks have Brachyspira infections, this figure rises to a staggering 90% in free range flocks. Infection is also rapid with free range birds susceptible to the disease from as early as week 22. We are also discovering that the organism can live longer than previously thought.

“It’s not good news for egg producers, especially free range,” concludes Mr Burch, “Identifying the best solution is a tough task, antibiotics and vaccines are available and there are a number of specific things that a producer can do to reduce infection risk. I will run through these, and all the findings in more detail, at the Severn Valley Poultry Discussion Group meeting.”

The next meeting takes place on April 29th at the Pengethley Manor Hotel, Ross-on-Wye. Tickets to attend the evening are £15, including dinner, and can be booked by calling 01432 266299.