An Investigation of Variables Associated with Mortality in a Broiler Complex in Mississippi
Johnson, Leslie B.
A southern Mississippi broiler complex in an area of high poultry density experienced persistent lower livability and growth performance compared with company averages for the state. It was hypothesized that circulating Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV) challenge exacerbated by underlying Infectious Bursal Disease (IBD)-induced immune suppression was the primary contributor to reduced livability and live production performance on certain farms, and that disease challenges were most prevalent on farms in areas of high bird density. A retrospective analysis of data from a three-year period (March 2014 through March 2017) was designed to investigate the role of disease, settlement, geographic, and weather variables in broiler mortality. A database comprising diagnostic variables (processing-age ELISA titers for Infectious Bursal Disease (IBD), Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV), Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV), and Reovirus (REO)), settlement variables (downtime, age at processing, average weight at processing, week 1 mortality, genetic line, year, and broiler vaccination programs), geographic variables (number of commercial chicken farms and houses within 1 km, 5 km, 10 km and 15 km radii), and weather variables (average temperature, average heat index, and average humidity for the first 7 days and last 14 days of grow-out) was created and analyzed using univariable and multivariable statistical analyses. First-week mortality, processing age, average processing weight, genetic line, NDV/IBV vaccination program, and heat index in the last 14 days of the grow-out period were found to be significantly associated with flock mortality in this broiler complex (P <= 0.05). The results of this study should guide future management and disease control strategies aimed at reducing broiler mortality. Future studies with more diagnostic data are needed to further investigate the relative contribution of diseases to broiler flock mortality.