Poultry Solutions

Respiratory Damage Related to Air Quality in Poultry Houses

For turkeys and chickens, respiratory disease challenges are directly related to the quality of the air in the house. Ammonia causes the first breach of birds’ respiratory defenses that will then allow viral and bacterial invaders entrance into their respiratory system.

The Process of Respiratory Damage

The mucociliary elevator of the trachea is the first line of defense birds have against respiratory challenges, including live vaccines. As a bird inhales, bacteria, viruses and other particles become trapped in the mucus that covers the cilia in the bird’s trachea. The cilia are small fibers that beat upward, lifting the trapped particles out of the trachea. This defense mechanism depends on the integrity of this tracheal lining.

Levels of Ammonia Damage to Respiratory Function

At 25 PPM of ammonia, birds’ cilia will become paralyzed and at 40 PPM the cilia will die off. If a bird is reacting to a respiratory vaccination at the same time it is exposed to higher levels of ammonia than before, it is unable to adequately clear the vaccine virus causing drawn out, harsher vaccine reactions. Ammonia levels of 25-50 PPM can result in reduced body weights, feed efficiency, larger lung size and increased airsacculitis.

At levels of 75-100 PPM, changes in respiratory function may occur and there may be hemorrhages in trachea and bronchi. Exposure to 70-100 PPM for 4 days exhibited increased thickness of atrial walls and shrinking air capillaries in lungs.

Stemming Ammonia Induced Chicken Respiratory Diseases

The application of PLT®-poultry litter treatment will eliminate the ammonia challenge, protecting the birds’ tracheal health minimizing vaccine reactions and reducing respiratory lesions. The cilia in the trachea will only have to deal with the vaccine virus and not a second insult of ammonia. A study published by Terzich, et al, birds raised on PLT whole-house had significantly fewer respiratory tract lesions from vaccine reactions than those with ammonia-damaged tracheas.

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