SOUTH AFRICA - For the last two weeks, we have been reporting on the World Veterinary Poultry Association Congress (WVPAC 2015), which took place in Cape Town, South Africa. Glenneis Kriel was there reporting for ThePoultrySite.
Vets as animal ‘protectors’
Dr Stephen Lister from Crowshall Veterinary Services in the United Kingdom cautioned delegates that with consumers becoming increasingly concerned over the welfare of animals, veterinarians will have to play a bigger role as the protectors of animals.
Otherwise, this 'protector' role will be stolen by groups that might be less informed, he said.
According to him, one of the biggest challenges with animal welfare is that it is often pushed by consumers that don’t know much about production.
For example, the majority of British consumers who took part in a study by the Institute of Global Distribution (IGD) in 2011, were surprised that mortality in broiler sheds were less than 5 per cent. They thought it was closer to 30 per cent to 40 per cent. Most of them were also against beak trimming, even though this was no longer a practice in the United Kingdom.
Educating consumers will not only help consumers to become more sympathetic towards the industry, but give them a better understanding of the cost implications of certain production changes, Dr Lister said – read more.
Infectious bronchitis virus changing
Various diseases were discussed at the Congress, including infectious bronchitis, which was covered in a talk by specialist Dr Jane Cook.
While the disease used to be associated with respiratory symptoms, decreased egg production and poor egg quality, some of the newer strains are also nephropathogenic, causing intestinal nephritis, she said.
Dr Cook warned delegates that new variants of the disease will continue to arise, because of the nature of the virus. It has a very high mutation rate.
The type of pathology caused by these variants will differ, as well as the severity of the disease and its geological spread.
Dr Cook said that one of the problems with these new strains is that they occur in well-vaccinated flocks. This might be because of vaccination biosecurity problems, but also because the vaccinations are not working against these diseases – read more.
Severe avian flu outbreaks teach important lessons
At a Congress symposium on avian influenza run by Ceva, representatives from Europe, the US and China told delegates that quick action and good biosecurity measures are the key to control of the disease.
Dr Andre Steentjies, from the Netherlands, discussed the biosecurity measures introduced there after the severe outbreaks in 2003, which resulted in the culling of 30 million birds.
Dr Mark Davidson from the US told delegates about the five step plan to be used in the event of any future avian flu outbreaks, and Professor Liu Xiufan from China discussed the influence of live poultry markets on the virus – read more.
Improve biosecurity to remove Newcastle disease
Whilst avian influenza is currently a big concern in the United States, Europe and China, South Africa is struggling to get a grip on Newcastle Disease.
Symptoms depend on the affected area, with mortalities varying from marginal to 90 per cent depending on the severity of the virus, Prof Celia Abolnik, from the Faculty of Veterinary Studies at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, told Congress delegates.
While the disease is highly contagious, Prof Abolnik believes that South Africa could move to a complete disease-free status by improving biosecurity.
She said that the spent hen industry, which is quite big in South Africa, is especially a problem: “Cull buyers buy up to a thousand chickens from a farm at a time. These chickens are often taken to a central depot where birds from other farms are mixed.
"From there they are sold to hawkers or other individuals, who usually sell the birds live for the pot in other areas.”
Prof Abolnik added that while the government had regulations in place to deal with Newcastle Disease, it would have to become tougher on animal movement to reduce risks – read more.
Importance of Newcastle disease vaccination
Dr Rosa Costa, from the KYEEMA Foundation in Mozambique, spoke about the importance of interventions to improve production in small-scale poultry farms.
Dr Costa told delegates at the Congress of the World Veterinary Poultry Association in Cape Town that most interventions so far focussed on health, such as Newcastle disease vaccinations and anti-parasitic treatments, housing using locally available materials, feeding strategies for different age groups and/or breeding strategies to improve the genetic potential of the flock.
Interventions that focussed on the vaccination of chickens against Newcastle disease proved the most successful.
“A study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations found that vaccinating backyard chickens in Africa against Newcastle disease reduced mortalities by up to 80 per cent and increased farmer earnings by 18 cents to 23 USD,” Dr Costa said – read more.
Find out more about the diseases in this report in our Knowledge Centre by clicking here.