The Value of Necropsy
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The Value of Necropsy

As many of us are aware there has been much concern about various poultry diseases in past few years, from Avian Influenza in Asia, to exotic New Castle in California to West Nile virus in the Midwest. What can a gamebird producer do to protect there operation against this?

Implement a Bio-security plan and a Monitoring plan.

Developing the later is where having staff experienced with Necropsy is beneficial.
By having staff capable of doing a necropsy on any mortality, it allows you a look into the flock health; you can react quicker to a serious situation and adjust your management programs quickly improving the overall health of the flock. Any mortality is an opportunity to evaluate your operations. Disposing of the carcass without doing a necropsy is a lost opportunity to evaluate the flock.

Many people fear a damaged reputation if they send birds out to a diagnostic lab, or being untrained is intimidated by the scientific nomenclature. One has to set these aside and realize that for the benefit of the operation working closely with a lab will protect the company and it is not necessary to have a complete understanding of the scientific terms as long as one understands the major systems of poultry anatomy, these being Digestive, Circulatory, Nervous, and Skeletal systems. A couple of reference materials is all one needs to accomplish this.

So as one works with a diagnostic lab or there veterinarian you will become more capable of identifying things that are management related vs. disease related. By doing this you eliminate the need for sending birds in to the lab and can start addressing the management issue immediately. A couple of examples would be damage to the lungs on interior flocks one could adjust ventilation and their bedding situation and resolve the issue without antibiotics or a diagnostic report. Another common situation would be identifying a lack of food in the digestive track and looking at the available feeder space.
You will not be able to identify everything in every situation but what you do identify allows you to improve the operation immediately and into the future.

So in these times of concern and overreaction performing necropsy allows you respond quickly to serious situations, avoid spending unnecessary test on a management/ program issue, helps protect your operation, and gives you insight into the overall health of your flocks. These benefits can be achieved with just a few reference materials and a bit of effort.

Brian Check
MacFarlane Pheasants Inc.
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