Translator Disclaimer
10 January 2022 Prevalence Patterns for Enteric Parasites of Chickens Managed in Open Environments of the Western United States
Kevin A. Cornell, Olivia M. Smith, Rocio Crespo, Matthew S. Jones, Michael S. Crossley, William E. Snyder, Jeb P. Owen
Author Affiliations +
Abstract

Growing demand for poultry meat and eggs labeled as organic, cage free, or pasture raised has increased the number of producers that manage chickens outdoors. In these open environments, there are likely diverse enteric parasites sustained by fecal-oral transmission or passage through intermediate invertebrate hosts (e.g., worms and insects) that chickens consume. Enteric parasites can reduce chicken health and productivity, but there are few published data describing the identities or prevalence of these parasites on farms that use open environments in the United States. We surveyed 27 poultry farms with open environments that were situated across a wide geographic range, including California, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington. These farms did not use anticoccidial drugs, coccidia vaccines, or parasiticides. Flock size, enclosure area, flock density, flock rotation frequency, and average flock age were highly correlated for all the farms in this study. We analyzed how enclosure size and flock rotations per year (which represented two axes of variation in management) correlated with prevalence of five observed parasite taxa at the farm level. Across all flocks, we detected by fecal flotation Eimeria spp. (95% flocks), Ascaridia galli (69%), Heterakis gallinarum (52%), Capillaria spp. (39%), Strongyloides avium (13%), tapeworm species (29%), Cryptosporidium spp. (3%), and Dispharynx nasuta (1%). Eighty-five percent of samples were coinfected with two or more parasite taxa. Sixty-seven percent of farms raised only layer chicken breeds, 4% raised only broiler breeds, and 30% raised both layer and broiler breeds. The average age of the broiler flocks was 11.0 wk (±1.1 SE), and flocks were moved 54.7 (±17.9) times annually to new locations in pastures (hereafter, “rotation”). Layer flocks averaged 84.9 (±7.67) wk of age and were moved less often on farms being rotated 20.0 (±6.05) times per year. Generalized linear mixed models indicated that for every 1 m2 increase in enclosure size, the odds of detecting Eimeria spp. increased by 0.03%. Furthermore, for every additional rotation per year, the odds of detecting A. galli decreased by 1.3%. For every additional rotation per year, the odds of detecting tapeworm species increased by 2.2%. We found no evidence that flock spatial management affected prevalence of the other parasites observed on the farms. Farming practices and parasite responses in these systems are highly varied, which makes it difficult to identify potential management interventions for reducing these infections.

Kevin A. Cornell, Olivia M. Smith, Rocio Crespo, Matthew S. Jones, Michael S. Crossley, William E. Snyder, and Jeb P. Owen "Prevalence Patterns for Enteric Parasites of Chickens Managed in Open Environments of the Western United States," Avian Diseases 66(1), 60-68, (10 January 2022). https://doi.org/10.1637/21-00079
Received: 19 August 2021; Accepted: 5 November 2021; Published: 10 January 2022
JOURNAL ARTICLE
9 PAGES


Share
SHARE
KEYWORDS
Coccidia
enteric parasites
extensified farms
free range
open environment
organic
poultry disease
RIGHTS & PERMISSIONS
Get copyright permission
Back to Top