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Kinky back takes costly toll on broilers at 4 to 6 weeks

Broiler producers are being urged to watch for signs of kinky back, an emerging bacterial disease of poultry that can cause significant losses in birds 4 to 6 weeks of age.

Drew Parker, DVM, a technical services veterinarian for Zoetis Inc., says infected birds often show signs of lameness and have difficulty getting to water lines, which leads to dehydration.

“Mortality can get anywhere from 1% to 5%,” he says, adding that morbidity can range from 20% to 30%.

And the losses don’t end there.  Infected flocks are also less uniform, which causes problems in the processing plant, Parker says.

Paying closer attention to flock environment — ventilation, water, lighting, litter temperature — will help “limit the debilitating problems of Enterococcus cecorum and kinky back,” the veterinarian says.

Taking measures to prevent opportunistic infections of E. coli — which Parker says “will set up shop” when a bird’s vertebral column has been compromised — may help reduce the impact of kinky back.


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