Factors Behind Broiler Back Disease Discovered

US - Infection pathways of a back disease affecting broilers have been discovered in a recently completed USPOULTRY research project, and could lead to preventative health treatments.
calendar icon 6 May 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

Enterococcal spondylitis, usually called kinky back in the broiler industry, is an important cause of lameness and mortality in many broiler companies.

Researchers at North Carolina State University, led by Dr Luke Borst, recently completed a research project in which they were able to determine factors that lead to this disease.

They found that the causative organism, Enterococcus cecorum (EC), invades through the intestinal tract of the broiler at an early age and travels through the bloodstream to the vertebrae.

This finding has led the researchers on the path of developing a vaccine for use in broiler breeders to protect the broiler progeny against the disease.

The researchers also found that gut colonisation and sepsis occur during weeks 1 to 3 of life. This is critical information, as it indicates that vaccination of breeder hens with an inactivated vaccine may help protect progeny (broilers) from the disease.

This finding also shows that the disease process starts two to three weeks before clinical signs appear in the flock, which helps explain why treatment of affected flocks with antibiotics has not been beneficial.

Finally, the researchers discovered that the causing organism does not persist in the environment when chickens are not present on the farm, and no specific management practice was clearly associated with EC status.

The project is part of the Association’s comprehensive research programme encompassing all phases of poultry and egg production and processing.

Further Reading

Find out more information on Enterococcal spondylitis ('kinky back') by clicking here.

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