Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, October 15, 1994, Image 151

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    Look At Whole Picture Before Prescribing Treatment For Flock Health Problems
Lancaster Farming Staff
MANHEIM (Lancaster Co.)
If we lived in a perfect world,
according to a renowned poultry
veterinarian, to simply diagnose a
disease would mean dialing the
phone to call the nearest veterina
rian. The vet would arrive, look at
a computer printout, prescribe a
drug, and that would be it.
“Unfortunately, in the poultry
industry, we don’t live in a perfect
world,” said Dr. Robert Owens,
director of poultry health and vet
erinary services for Hubbard
Farms. Walpole. N.H.
Owens spoke to about 30 poul
try industry representatives on
Monday at the Poultry Manage
ment and Health Seminar at Kreid
er Farms Restaurant.
To solve a poultry health prob
lem, according to Owens, the
birds' entire growout, including
the past history of the flock, the
current history, the environment,
the feed, the housing, and the
growth charts must be carefully
analyzed before tests can be made
to determine what the problem is.
And the poultry veterinarian —not
to mention the flock manager
has a wealth of tools available to
make a diagnosis before any drugs
or other treatment are needed.
“First and foremost, definitive
diagnoses can only be made with
the support of a fully equipped and
staffeu diagnostic laboratory.’’
said Owens.
In New Hampshire, the labs
have been closed. In fact, accord
ing to Owens, on the many talks he
gives, he tries to gamer support for
states to implement a fully
equipped and staffed poultry lab to
support the industries. Fortunate
ly, Pennsylvania has a laboratory.
But for poultry producers and
those who manage the birds,
according to Owens, to accurately
prescribe treatment, they must first
look at the whole picture.
“I think we have to take off the
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blinders that some of us seem to
have on, and we need to try and
look at the whole picture when
we’re trying to diagnose a problem
on the farm,” he said.
The following tools are avail
able to the producer to make a
clear, accurate prescription of bird
health problems on the farm;
• Past history. What has hap
pened to the birds on the farm in
the past? Examine previous dis
ease challenges, including MG,
ascites. SE, and other diseases.
Was management of the previous
flock up to par? What are the dis
ease challenges in the area? (LT is
no problem in New Hampshire,
but is a factor in Pennsylvania.)
What was the liveability of the pre
vious flock? Pullet breeders (most
of Owens work is done at the
breeder level) should sit down with
the manager and And out about the
past flock to see what to focus in
• Current history. For hens,
what is the size of the house? Type
of house? Stocking density? Vepti
lation? Check to see if these factors
are functioning correctly. What
about the feed and water system?
(Owen said that-water quality is
being, in large pan, ignored a
vital factor in flock health. “It
really turns the flock around, just
by improving the water quality,’’
he said.) What has been the clean
out history? What about the room
temperature is it too hot or cold
for birds? “It’s important to put
the whole picture together,’’ said
Owen. For broilers and pullets,
what is the breeder performance
record? (A standard form from
Hubbard Farms keeps careful
records of bird and management
data.) A vital factor to look at is
mortality, both 7- and 14-day. The
Hubbard Farms mortality guide is
0.9 percent at 7 days and less thah
1.6 percent at 14 days. What is the
20-week mortality? Weight and
uniformity are other factors. What
are the 4-week and 20-week
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weights? “You can make or break
a chicken with what you have at
the 4-week weight," said the vet
erinarian. For Hubbard breeders,
the 4-week weight is .9 pounds.
For breeders, look at the age at
housing. Weight at housing is
another factor. What is the
20-week uniformity? What is the
morality at 25 weeks? This factor
should be between 0.25 percent
and 0.35 percent per week.
Owen said that clinical signs
must be examined, such as evi
dence of diarrhea, passing feed, or
“One thing I think we need to
pay mere attention to are these
respiratory noises. “ he said.
“When you go into a chicken
house, if you just take your time
and sit and be quiet, the chickens
can tell you a lot of things.”
For Owen, the rule of thumb is
that the snick will develop 3-5 days
after vaccination and should be
over about 7-9 days after
• Physical examination. “You
cannot diagnose a problem with
chickens down the form unless you
go into the chicken house,” he
said. “Let the chickens tell you
Owen said pro
ducers should walk around the
entire house, around the edges on a
pullet house or up on the slats in a
hen house, to see what is going on
with the chickens. The sick birds
will tend to flock on the sides of the
houses. Also, pick the chickens up,
and look at their fleshing, the size
of the keel, frame size, and sexual
uniformity. “Get out into the
house and get around and look.”
• Post-mortem exam. Owen
said to do “a thorough exam. Ithas
to be a hands-on thing—you have
to do it and do it and do it until you
get good at it” Producers should
che£k the sick birds and healthy
birds alike and compare them.
Samples are essential, including
those necessary for histopatholo
gy, cultures, bacterial sampling.
I Smoketown, PA. PH. 717-299-2571 I
Lancaster Farming, Saturday, October 15, 1994-D3
“It’s Important to put the whole picture together,” said Dr.
Robert Owen, director of poultry health and veterinary ser
vices at Hubbard Farms, Walpole, N.H., right. Owen
describes some of the elements on the Hubbard Farms Pul
let Performance Record to Dr. Paul Patterson, assistant
professor, poultry science, Penn State.
and serology.
• Serology. Titer samples are
only useful as an aid to diagnosis.
This tool must be used to “put the
whole picture together.” he said.
A vet must have both acute and
convalescent titers. Generally, a
vet should use the geometric mean
titer (GMT) or the coefficient of
variation (CV) to make an accurate
serology. Also, vets need to be
aware of sampling errors and to
correlate serology to clinical signs.
“You can’t take a snapshot of titer
and believe you know what is
going on. A lot of times the serolo
gy doesn’t correlate with what
we’re seeing in the field. Use all
tools available to you.
“So much nowadays we look at
a computer printout snapshot of
things. And I think that’s wrong.
We have to look at the whole his
tory of the flock to tell what’s
going on,’’ he said.
Owen said these tools can be
used in all types of poultry
“1 use these tools anywhere, I
go, whether it’s China. South Afri
ca. south Alabama, or Timbuktu
it’s the same every place 1 go.’’
It does
a body
■ J ®