Blackhead in Turkeys, Gizzard Impaction in Free-Range Hens Reported

UK - The latest Monthly Surveillance Report from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) covering poultry during September 2008 includes Capillaria, necrotic enteritis and blackhead in turkeys, infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) and gizzard impaction.
calendar icon 5 November 2008
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Faeces from a 20-week-old free-range hen showing signs of diarrhoea and malaise were received for examination. High numbers (300 epg) of Capillaria sp. eggs were present in the faeces. Capillaria can cause ingluvitis and enteritis in free-range layers causing significant production losses. Treatment was recommended.

Necrotising Enteritis in Turkeys

Three 11-week-old turkeys died overnight from a group of 800 with a further 100 having appeared slightly dull for approximately 10 days. A further two batches of turkeys, aged 12 and 13 weeks, shared the same airspace but were unaffected. Post mortem examination at Bury revealed necrotic enteritis affecting the small and large intestine with one bird having necrotic cores in the caecae. Moderate to large numbers of coccidia were present throughout the intestine and there were large numbers of Gram-positive rods in the small intestine. In addition to coccidiosis, necrotic enteritis due to Clostridium perfringens type A was confirmed with the detection of alpha toxin in the small intestinal content.


Two hundred deaths from a group of 700 turkeys over a 2-week period lead to the submission of one live bird and two carcasses to Winchester for post-mortem examination. Post mortem findings were of necrotic cores present in the caecae, with oedema and necrotic areas present in the caecal wall with annular lesions present on the livers. The findings were characteristic of those seen in cases of histomonosis (blackhead) in turkeys.

Infectious Laryngotracheitis

Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT) was diagnosed in a small backyard flock of eight birds, all of which were reported to be affected with coughing and a slow deterioration over a period of one month. A total of three hens had died. Histological examination of fixed lung and trachea submitted by the PVS revealed the presence of intranuclear inclusion bodies characteristic of ILT in one lung section and a severe tracheitis.

Impaction of the Gizzard

Impaction of the gizzard and upper intestine was seen in a flock of 63-day-old free-range broilers submitted for examination due to poor performance and unevenness. Birds with and average weight of 762 grams had large bundles of long grass fibres stuck and distending the gizzard, pyloric junction and upper intestine. This flock was said to be raised on a range of clover. The provision of insoluble grit and careful management of the range before the birds were introduced was advised.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.
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