Experts examine chicks to find cause of death
January 20, 2006

Experts examine chicks to find cause of death

The baffling ailment, which has affected broiler chickens since October 2004 may not be such a mystery after all.

According to Professor Dr. Richard Julian, Avian Pathologist at the University Guelph in Ontario Canada, poor diet may be the cause of the rapid mortality among the 2 to 4-week-old birds.{{more}}

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, January 16, at the Ministry of Agriculture conference room, Dr. Julian revealed that since arriving in the country on Wednesday, January 9, he conducted post mortems on dead birds, the findings of which revealed that the birds may have died of nutritional problems.

He believes that too much salt in the birds’ diet might have caused heart disease and the bone deficiency disease, Rickets, leading to their death. He disclosed that while the feed which the birds may have been eating was high in salt, it was not high enough to lead to death. He however believed that the excess sodium came from supplements such as electrolytes, vitamins and antibiotics given to the birds.

He said while heart disease seemed to be the main cause of death in chickens, nearly all the farms also had chickens with rickets. He believed that this, too, came from too little or too much of what the birds were consuming.

Dr. Julian however noted that the heart disease could result from bone disease, which could explain the two different diseases affecting the birds. He noted that if the bones were weak, the ribs wouldn’t allow the birds to breathe properly resulting in the heart working too hard and resulting in heart disease.

The professor urged all farmers to desist from using supplements such as electrolytes, antibiotics or vitamins along with their bird feed, stressing that most of the required nutrients were already in the feed.

Meanwhile, East Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC), Marketing Manager, Martin Laborde, while not accepting responsibility for the death among the chickens, agreed with Dr. Julian that maybe the cause of death among birds was a lack of or too much of something in their diet. He said ECGC would continue to analyse the findings so that his company would provide a balanced product. He noted that their own medical specialist had been conducting research but would take Dr. Julian’s findings into consideration.

Minister of Agriculture, Montgomery Daniel emphasised that government would do all that was possible to ensure that the poultry industry operated efficiently.

He stressed that when government learnt of the sickness which was affecting not only poultry in this country but also in countries like Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad, it quickly got the services of veterinary doctors, Dr. Julian’s being the fourth.

Minister Daniel also commended ECGC with helping to deal with the sickness in the chickens to ensure food security and production.