by guest blogger, Luke Baldwin, DVM, MAM
New poultry housing presents a range of issues that require careful planning prior to bird placement to help increase house performance over its lifespan. In recent years, the term new house syndrome has been used to describe houses that fail to thrive in the first few flocks.
Flocks faced with new house syndrome tend to have issues with abnormal coccidiosis cycling, respiratory challenges, and a general failure to thrive. Interventions such as increased biosecurity and environmental treatments need to be taken to help decrease clinical signs of new house syndrome.
Diseases tend to walk in on two feet; so adequate biosecurity measures should be in place even when constructing a new poultry house. For example, someone constructing a new house could also be doing preventative maintenance on an existing farm which could cause cross contamination. Therefore, 21 days of down time at minimum should be given to help decrease the pathogen contamination risk. In addition, tools used to make house repairs within 21 days of placement should be disinfected to ensure all excess debris and dust are removed from every piece of the equipment.
Vehicle traffic introduces risk with the potential to spread hearty pathogens such as Mycoplasma. Vehicles moving from existing to new housing should be disinfected prior to entry on the farm, and visitor and construction personnel sign in/out logs used to help track poultry exposure. The best way to approach new housing biosecurity is to treat it like downtime between flocks as it encourages people to treat the perimeter buffer area and surrounding houses with more caution.
Beyond biosecurity, the environment needs to be addressed. The pad has a resident flora of pathogens that reside on its surface. If not treated properly, these pathogens can cause many clinical issues down the road. Before any interventions are taken, sample your pad to determine pathogen populations. For some pathogens, safe and proven litter amendments can be used to reduce high numbers.
Water is the most important nutrient in a bird’s diet making it vital to test water samples. Water high in coliforms and nitrates can lead to issues with gut and enteric health. If birds cannot eat or digest food well, performance will be the smallest problem that flock faces. Water additives and treatments can help decrease water quality issues without hurting performance.
While new poultry housing offers modern engineering marvels, they still require basic poultry science to help decrease the chances of a new housing syndrome break. Thinking about biosecurity, the resident bacteria population of your pad, and water supply prior to placement could help your performance for years to come.