Identification of epidemiological risk factors for spotty liver disease in cage-free layer flocks in houses with fully slatted flooring in Australia

Article


Gao, Yuanshuo K., Singh, Mini, Muir, Wendy I., Kotiw, Michael and Groves, Peter J.. 2023. "Identification of epidemiological risk factors for spotty liver disease in cage-free layer flocks in houses with fully slatted flooring in Australia." Poultry Science. 102 (12). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psj.2023.103139
Article Title

Identification of epidemiological risk factors for spotty liver disease in cage-free layer flocks in houses with fully slatted flooring in Australia

ERA Journal ID5457
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsGao, Yuanshuo K., Singh, Mini, Muir, Wendy I., Kotiw, Michael and Groves, Peter J.
Journal TitlePoultry Science
Journal Citation102 (12)
Article Number103139
Number of Pages9
Year2023
PublisherElsevier
Place of PublicationNetherlands
ISSN0032-5791
1525-3171
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psj.2023.103139
Web Address (URL)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0032579123006582
Abstract

Spotty liver disease (SLD) is recognized to be caused by infection with Campylobacter hepaticus in adult layer hens farmed in cage-free environments. SLD is an emerging disease as cage-free egg production increases in popularity in response to desires for improved welfare of poultry. Outbreaks of SLD are frequently experienced around peak egg production in flocks, commonly between 25 and 40 wk of age. The disease becomes manifest with increased exposure and access of the birds to the feces of the flock. This study follows from a previous epidemiological survey of free-range and barn flocks in Australia which identified the presence of a scratch area within the laying house as a major risk factor for the occurrence of SLD. However, that survey also observed SLD occurrence in 45% of houses with a fully slatted floor (no scratch area). The present study describes a further analytical survey aimed at identification of risk factors for SLD in houses with fully slatted flooring. A comprehensive questionnaire was completed for 49 cage-free flocks from point of lay until 40 wk of age across Australia, retrieving information on house design, bird breed, flock size, stocking densities, bird growth, and performance and the occurrence of SLD.

Multiple logistic regression model building was used to separate factors and identify important management factors that may be amenable to modify the occurrence of SLD in egg layers.

Key determinants of SLD identified from the analyses were that houses with mechanical ventilation (such as tunnel ventilation) have some protection from SLD and an increase of an extra 1 bird/m2 of nest space increased odds of occurrence of SLD by 1.172 times. A recommendation to not exceed 112 brown egg layer hens/m2 of nest space in naturally ventilated houses with a full slat floor was suggested. A delay in birds reaching 60% hen day production (HD) by 1 wk is suggested as a possible predictor for a subsequent outbreak of SLD.

Keywordsspotty liver disease; risk factors; epidemiology; cage-free production
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020309999. Other agricultural, veterinary and food sciences not elsewhere classified
310701. Bacteriology
Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Sydney
University of Southern Queensland
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