The productivity of a layer hen is dependent upon many factors, especially overall health and wellness. Did you know that a certain condition called Blackhead Disease can compromise their productivity, as well? North Carolina State University’s Christina Sigmon said that this condition can lead to a substantial drop in egg production during the 2018 Poultry Scientific Forum, according to Poultry Health Today.
The protozoan parasite that causes this condition is called Histomonas meleagridis. The disease itself occurs mostly in turkeys, but affects chickens, quail, peafowl, and pheasants, as well. This parasite inhabits the parenchyma of the liver and the lumen of the cecum. It can cause extensive necrosis in the areas it infects.
In as early as 10 to 14 days of age, this parasite can cause a mortality rate of up to 30% in chicken flocks or 100% in turkey flocks. Sigmon and her colleagues did a study on 128 commercial egg-laying chicks. They inoculated half with H. melagridis intracloacally at 18 days of age.
Four birds per pen were euthanized and sampled 5 and 10 days post-infection. Data showed an infection rate of 80%. From day 28 to day 42, the infected birds were significantly less heavy in comparison to the control birds who were not inoculated. Sigmon noted that the infected birds were able to recover in bodyweight subsequently.
By day 120, the hens were moved to a production laying facility. As of their 147th day of age, only 42% of the hens inoculated with the disease were laying compared to 67% of the control hens. Sigmon added that all birds survived 173 days of age except for the ones euthanized, and none of the infected hens had necrotic liver lesions. You can read the full article here.
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