Northern and southern Alabama face different broiler disease issues

Only one common disease in north and south Alabama
calendar icon 27 July 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

Alabama ranks third in the country in terms of US broiler production however, the northern and southern parts of the state deal with very different disease issues, according to a study presented at the 2022 International Poultry Scientific Forum.

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) the value of broiler production in Alabama rose from $2.36 billion in 2020 to $3.49 billion in 2021. However, the number of broiler chicks placed on farms dropped from 1.26 billion to 1.22 billion from 2020 to 2021.

Alabama ranks third in the US in broiler production, according to the National Chicken Council, behind Georgia and Arkansas.

Hailey Quercia, Auburn University, and colleagues from Auburn and the Alabama Department of Agriculture performed a retrospective case study using necropsy records from the Alabama State Diagnostic Laboratory System for calendar year 2019, for birds older than seven days of age.

One hundred ninety-one broiler submissions were analyzed, representing more than 1,700 birds, with an average age of 22.7 days, although the most common age was seven days, said the researchers.

The bottom line of the research was that regional differences were dramatic, with northern and southern Alabama only having one condition in common in their top five causes of morbidity and mortality.

North versus south

According to the study, in northern Alabama, the top five identified causes of morbidity and mortality were:

  1. aerobic bacterial infection/septicemia
  2. femoral head necrosis
  3. bursal atrophy
  4. moderate to severe Eimeria maxima infection
  5. joint synovitis

For southern Alabama, the top five causes of morbidity and mortality were

  1. aerobic bacterial infection/septicemia
  2. necrotic enteritis
  3. upper respiratory disease
  4. viral infection
  5. inclusion body hepatitis

Aerobic bacterial infection/septicemia was the only common issue between the northern and southern sections of the state, and it topped both lists.

Northern Alabama had significantly higher average Eimeria maxima scores than southern Alabama. Seasonal differences were seen with necrotic enteritis more commonly diagnosed in the fall and winter, and joint synovitis more commonly diagnosed in the spring and summer, said the researchers.

The researchers concluded that these findings underscore the importance of understanding health challenges on a local level.

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