Tuesday, July 31, 2012

NPIP Follow Up

I wanted to write a follow-up post to my NPIP post. I wanted to talk specifically about the diseases that the NPIP testing covers. I understand that not all states tests for all four of these diseases but I am sure that if you ask they will, it may cost a little more though. Here in Georgia they test for Pullorum, which is what all states that test for NPIP test for, but they also test for Avian Influenza, M. Gallisepticum, and M. Synoviae. I personally feel that it is very important for any person owning chickens, whether for pet, show or food, to have the NPIP testing done.  It just gives you a little more peace of mind knowing that you have a healthy flock.

The following is just a brief explanation of the diseases and how they affect our birds and what can be done to treat them. 

Pullorum Disease is caused my Salmonella pullorum. It has very high mortality rates for young birds and can also kill adults. It was once very common but has nearly been eradicated. Transmission is through the egg, direct and indirect contact. If the egg has been infected, via the hen having the disease, then death usually occurs within the first few days of life and up to 2-3 weeks after hatching. Affected chicks seek and huddle under a heat source, don’t eat, appear sleepy and will have whitish colored droppings caked up around the vent. Any that survive will become carriers and can pass the disease to their offspring. There are currently no antibiotics approved to treat infected flocks.

Avian Influenzas (Bird Flu) are caused by orthomyxoviruses. This disease is zoonotic, meaning that some forms are transmissible to humans.  Many wild birds carry this disease in a form that does not cause illness. Domestic birds can contract the disease from wild birds and get extremely sick, to the point of death. Some forms have a mortality rate of nearly 100% and can kill an entire flock in as little as 48 hours.  For more information you can visit the CDC’s page on Avian Influenza. 

M. Gallisepticum and M. Sunoviae are both Mycoplasmas. They are bacteria but they are very unique in that they lack a cell wall and must have a rich medium containing serum to grow. This can make them different to treat as most antibiotics work by destroying the cell wall.  They do not live very long outside of their hosts; usually no more than a few hours or days. They are vulnerable to most disinfectants.

M. Gallisepticum is a chronic respiratory disease in chickens and an infectious sinusitis in turkey. Other avian species are also susceptible to infection. It is the most pathogenic of the Avian Mycoplasma. It is found worldwide. It can be transmitted via direct and indirect contact as well as through the eggs of infected individuals. The infection may be dormant in the infected, hatched chick for days to months, but when the flock becomes stressed aerosol transmission occurs rapidly and infection spreads through the flock. The infection can also be carried on the clothing or boots of a person from an infected flock to a clean flock. This is why Biosecurity is very important. In many flocks the source of infection cannot be determined. Once infected, birds remain carriers for life. Infected birds may show no apparent symptoms or have varying degrees of respiratory distress, slight to marked rales, difficulty breathing, coughing and or sneezing. Infection rates are high, but death rates are low in uncomplicated cases. There may be nasal discharge along with frothiness in the eyes.  The disease is generally more severe in turkey than in chickens. Infected birds may fail to reach peak laying ability, while broilers may not gain weight as normal. Treatment with tylosin, oxytetracycline or erythromycin is affective, among other antibiotics. Antibiotics are usually given via the feed or water for 5-7 days. There is a vaccine, but it must be approved for use by the state veterinarian.

M. Synoviae occurs most frequently as a subclinical infection of the upper respiratory track. Chickens and turkeys are the primary carriers but ducks, guinea fowl, geese, parrots, pheasants and quail are susceptible.  It can be transmitted through the egg, but the rates are very low. The risk of transmission via eggs is greatest the first few weeks after infection of the hen. Transmission via direct and indirect contact is rapid. Symptoms can include slight rales, but generally no signs are seen. Outbreaks generally occur in young birds, those about 4-6wks. The disease can cause tendonitis and bursitis, and some birds may sit, become depressed and generally stay close to the feeders and waterers. Swelling of the hocks and foot pads may be evident. These symptoms are generally only seen in severely affected birds. The mortality rate is very low, less than 10% in most cases. Treatment is with one of the tetracycline antibiotics.

Both M. Gallisepticum and M. Sunoviae are respiratory diseases of chickens.  I wanted to point out that they have the possibility of being transmitted through the egg, in the embryo. So you can buy chicks or hatching eggs and possibly bring these diseases into your flock. Your birds will be carriers for life once they have contracted these diseases. There is a chance that when your birds become stressed they will develop the symptoms of these respiratory diseases. There is also a chance that when you bring new birds into your flock they will contract these diseases and may become sick. The only way to know you are buying birds or eggs that are free of these diseases is to purchase from those who have had the NPIP testing and come back clean of all of these diseases.  The testing is very easy and is not expensive; I feel it should be done by anyone interested in keeping a healthy flock. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

New Serama Babies

These babies were hatched out
on July 18th and 22nd.
There are 8 chicks total,
some I have pictured more than once.
Just depended on how much 
they wanted to model for me today!


Pen B Chick 1

Pen D Chick 2

Pen D, Chick 2

Pen B, Chick 3

Pen B, Chick 4

Pen B, Chick 5

Pen D, Chick 6

Pen D, Chick 6

Pen B, Chick 7

Pen B, Chick 7

Pen C, Chick 8

Pen C, Chick 8

Some of these babies may be available 
for sale at a later date.
I have to determine who I am going to keep.
They have to be a little bit older so I can
see their type and who is boys and who is girls.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Turkey for Sale

I have 3 turkey jakes available.
I hatched them from eggs I purchased in May 2012.
There are Narragansett/Eastern Wild and Narragansett/Bourbon Reds.
They have just started strutting and trying to gobble.
$30 Each

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

For Sale

I have 5 young Serama boys available for sale.
These boys were hatched in May 2012.
They are out of Jenna and Kotaro and 
Jenna and Pichi.
I am asking $15 each for these boys. 
Shipping will be available when the weather 
has cooled down some.
Shipping is $65 and includes a 
new shipping box.
I am NPIP certified in Ga.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blackhead in Turkey

Well I had my first experience with Blackhead in turkey this week. We lost one bird a few days ago when it was so hot so I assumed that was what caused it. That was the only loss we had. Then yesterday when I went to let everyone out in the morning to free range all day I found another young turkey had passed. Since all the birds were fine when they were put up the evening before and it had not been that hot I decided something else must be going on. I was given different opinions when I first got my turkey from people say they could and could not be raised with chickens.  The person I got my turkey from had hers with her chickens and they all seemed to be doing great.  Well, apparently my turkey and chickens are not going to be able to live together because after doing some research and performing a necropsy (I am a licensed veterinary technician and have done several necropsies) on the bird I lost, I have fount that I am dealing with blackhead in my birds. 
I have included two pictures from the necropsy in case anyone else loses birds and would like to see what they should be looking for if they too decide to necropsy their bird. If you think you are dealing with blackhead and don’t have the stomach to do your own necropsy you can collect the bird as soon as possible after death and put it in a garbage bag and into your refrigerator. Do not freeze the bird. Then get in touch with your veterinarian. Even most small animal veterinarians should be able to do a necropsy on your bird even if they don’t normally treat avian species.

 You can have your veterinarian look for the following during the necropsy to determine if you are dealing with blackhead:
Lesions on the cecae and liver, the cecae may show a ballooned appearance and the walls are thickened, necrotic or ulcerated. A caseous, cheesy, core within the cecae, it may be blood tinged.  In some cases a perforation of the cecal wall may occur leading to peritonitis. The liver will be swollen and display circular depressed areas of necrosis, usually ½ an inch in diameter. The lesions will be yellow to yellow-green in color and extend into the underlying liver tissues.
You can see the lesions in the photos of my bird; also there is a perforation in the cecal wall resulting in leakage and peritonitis in my bird as well.  

Lesions on the liver

Cecum, perforation
To prevent blackhead in your turkey, the simplest way is to not house them with any other species of poulty or fowl.  The next best thing is to follow a strict deworming program in all of your birds. Blackhead is caused by a parasite that most avian species carry, so your birds can also be infected by wild birds. That is why a proper deworming schedule with the correct medications in so important. I was misinformed and that is what caused my losses, I was told previously not to start deworming my birds until they were 6 months old. Well, none of turkey are yet six months old but had I started worming them before now I may not have experienced the losses I have.  
The disease is caused by a protozoan, a relative of coccidia, that is found in cecal worms of poultry and other fowl.  The bird is infected by the cecal worm and is then infected by the blackhead organism Histomonas meleagridis.  For the disease to spread amongst the birds the flock must be infected with the cecal worm carrying the protozoan. The worm and its eggs can survive in the soil for long periods of time, years even.  The parasite can also be transferred through earthworms. Because the presence of the cecal worm is necessary for the transmission of the disease, an effective worming schedule is very important in its prevention. 

The following drugs are effective against cecal worms in poultry:
 Levamisole, Albendazole Oxfendazole, Fenbendazole and Ivermectin.

Albendazole (Albenza or Valbazen)  10 mg/kg for all worms except tapes, which required 20mg/kg.

Fenbendazole (Panacur or Safe-Guard) 10-50mg/kg by mouth once, repeat in 10 days or once daily for 3-5 days.  Or 125mg/Liter of drinking water for 5 days. Do not use during molt.

Ivermectin (Ivomec) 200 mcg/kg (0.2mg/kg) orally, repeat in 10-14 days.

Levamisole (Levasole or Tramisol) Using 13.65% injectable: 5-15ml/gallon drinking water for 1-3 days, repeat in 10 days. Or 18-36mg/kg by mouth.

Oxfendazole  (Synanthic) 10mg/kg

Signs and Symptoms of the disease include:
Loss of condition, a drowsy appearance, ruffled or un-kept feathers, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea or sulphur colored droppings. It can also cause stunted growth and loss of appetite. Some birds exhibit a darkening of the face, comb or wattles, hence the name blackhead.
I personally did not see any of these signs in my birds, but my birds are still very young so I believe they succumbed before I was able to notice any symptoms. I have also read that any turkey exhibiting a sulphur colored stool should begin treatment immediately, even if no other symptoms are seen. My birds all still have normal stools, but the necropsy results show that they are suffering from this disease. Therefore, I suggest anyone experiencing a loss of birds have a necropsy done.
Birds affected are turkey, peafowl, guinea fowl, pheasant and chickens but turkey and other game birds seem to suffer the most from the disease. Many chickens are infected but seem to be less affected and usually no losses occur.

The best treatment for the disease, emetryl, is no longer available on the market and is now illegal because it was found to be carcinogenic. So now the treatment seems to be hit or miss for some people. What I have found is treating with Metronidazole seems to be the best treatment at this time. You can get metronidazole from your veterinarian, it is a very common small animal drug or you can try your local pet store that carries fish supplies.  Look for a product called Fish Zole, the active ingredient should be metronidazole. The dose is 50mg/kg by mouth once daily for 5 days. The fish zole comes as a 250mg tablet, so to dose the birds you will need to weigh your birds and figure out the dose to determine how much to give.  As a reference point a 10lb bird will get 1 tablet. If you are not sure how to do the calculations you can email me your bird’s weight and I will calculate it for you or call your veterinarian and they can calculate the dose for you.  Corid (amprolium), which is commonly used for prevention of coccidia can also be added to the drinking water to help treat and prevent blackhead. Some medicated turkey feeds already have powdered amprolium mixed in.  It comes as Amprol 128 which is Amprolium 20% soluble powder. This should be able to be found OTC, and is approved for use in growing chickens, turkey and laying hens. There is no meat or egg withdrawal when used as directed.  If you cannot find this product you may be able to get the liquid form (9.6% solution) and the dose is 2ml/gallon of water for 5 days. You may need to add some sugar to the water as it is unpalatable to some animals.

I hope this has been helpful and that you can learn from my experiences.
Until next time, enjoy your feathered friends!

You may find these links helpful:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

NPIP Testing In Georgia



For anyone interested in NPIP certification in the state of GA,
I am going to try and give a brief description of how my
inspection and testing went.

The first thing you will need to do is contact 
the  Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network
I worked with Crissie Boyd, NPIP Senior Specialist.
She set up my appointment with the tester.
She can be reached at 770-535-5796 or cboyd@gapoultrylab.org
You can also visit www.gapoultrylab.org

If you have less than 300 birds
all of your birds will be tested.
Only birds over 4 months of age are tested.
If you have over 300 birds, they will test
300 random birds.
It cost $8 a year to be enrolled in the program
and it is 30 cents for each bird tested.

The test consist of a blood agglutination test,
which means there will be a drop of blood
taken from your bird, placed on a board, that looks a lot 
like a cutting board, and a drop of liquid is also placed on the board.
The blood and liquid are mixed together, if it clumps your bird is positive
for the test, which is bad. If it doesn't clump, they're negative.
The results are able to be read immediately. 
This is done to every bird on the property, this test is for Pullorum Typhoid.
The second test is performed in the lab, the tester will collect several drops 
of blood into a test tube to take back with him to be tested.
This test was done randomly on my birds,
 it tests for M. Gallisepticum, M. Synoviae and Avian Influenza. 
The tester gets the blood from a vessel under one of the wings,
he will hold your bird with one arm, hold a wing up and using
a tool with a needle like end and hoop end he will prick a vessel
and then using the hoop end he will gather up some of the blood 
and place it on the board. If the bird is also to be tested
by the lab he will collect more blood through this same prick
into a test tube. 
Each bird is also banded at the time the test is done with
a metal leg band with an identification number.
Each year the bird is tested it will receive a new band with a new number. 
It took approximately 1 hour for all of my birds to be tested,
that was from the time he pulled into the driveway
till he pulled back out. 
I had 22 birds tested. 

Some reasons to have your flock tested are:
Personal peace of mind, knowing that
your birds are free of these diseases.
Show birds are required to be tested,
the test performed is only good for
3 months, while the one done at your
farm is good for 1 year.
Most birds that have a NPIP band will 
not be tested at the shows, those that don't 
are subject to the test, so why not have it done at home
where it will be good for a year.
Most states require NPIP testing before you can ship
live birds or hatching eggs into the state. 
So if you are interested in selling birds and shipping them
you need to be NPIP certified, and if you want to ship hatching eggs
you will need to be NPIP certified. 

To make your testing go as smoothly as possible
I would suggest having all of your birds penned in an area that they
are easy to capture quickly.
Because I free range my birds, I kept them in their coop
and removed each bird one at a time.
Then once the test was completed and the bird was banded
we just let them go in the yard to range,
that way I could easily tell who still needed to be caught and who was done.
I hope this has been of some help or education!
Please email me if you have any further questions!
Thank You 
Enjoy your feathered friends.