Damaged Respiratory Integrity can limit bird performance and health, leaving flocks more vulnerable to disease and with reduced processing ability.


Respiratory Integrity in-depth

Respiratory Integrity can be negatively affected by several factors including disease presence and mangement practices.

Assessments of Respiratory Integrity evaluate lesions in the respiratory system of broilers. Damage to this system can bring increases in morbidity and mortality, negatively influence bird performance, lower processing ability, and leave flocks vulnerable to other diseases. Respiratory health can be influenced by several factors including flock management, presence of infectious agents, handling of chicks post hatching and breed. Air quality also plays a primary role in respiratory health – good air quality can help reduce problems caused by other diseases while poor air flow may exacerbate respiratory challenges.

In the case of diseases like Aspergillosis, efforts also will be needed to track the source of the infection. Depending on how widespread the problem is, additional diagnostic tests may be needed to establish the specific cause of the lesions.

On average, the Respiratory Integrity scores across the last 10 years have been somewhat consistent by region from year to year. Average scores overall tend to range from about 90.8 to 96.8, with an overall mean score for the time of 93.97, marking relatively good respiratory health in flocks. However, there is variation from region to region both in terms of average score and consistency of average scores. North America saw the most variation on a year-to-year basis toward the middle of the decade but has since flattened out, while producers in Asia Pacific tended to report the lowest average scores overall.

Respiratory Integrity (RI) index scores in the Asia Pacific region have steadily increased during the last decade while scores in North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America have decreased slightly in recent years.

Respiratory Integrity (RI) across seasons

Respiratory Integrity tends to be fairly consistent for producers from month to month. However, the North America region demonstrates the most volatility.

Management practices and conditions like air quality and facility ventilation play a role in respiratory health for poultry flocks. As such, there are often commonly held ideas that one time of year or another can prompt worse respiratory health. However, when assessing bird respiratory health data by month for a series of years patterns start to become clearer. While there may be some minor fluctuation, Respiratory Integrity tends to be consistent throughout the year. Exceptions to this include a drop in health reported by producers in North America during late winter or early spring and by producers in the Asia Pacific region during early spring. Establishing these as consistent seasonal patterns allows producers the opportunity to take proactive steps.

Knowing when drops in RI occur gives producers a chance to take proactive steps to protect flock respiratory health.

About Airsacculitis

HTSi® Definition:

The air sacs in the abdominal cavity should be clear and free of exudate in the normal bird. Some mild airsacculitis may result from normal reaction to vaccination, but the moderate to severe airsacculitis is usually an indication of excessive reaction, field challenge or secondary bacterial involvement. Lesion scores range from 0 - 4 with 0 indicating normal air sacs, 1 indicating mild airsacculitis with light suds in the air sacs, 2 indicating moderate airsacculitis, 3 indicating marked airsacculitis and 4 indicating severe airsacculitis.

Some mild airsacculitis may result from normal reaction to vaccination, but the moderate to severe airsacculitis is usually an indication of excessive reaction, field challenge or secondary bacterial involvement.

About Tracheitis

HTSi® Definition

The gross appearance of the trachea may be a reflection of the bird's exposure to respiratory disease or an indication of the air quality (ammonia, dust, etc.) in the poultry house. Lesion scores range from 0 - 3 with 0 indicating a normal trachea, 1 indicating mild tracheitis, 2 indicating moderate tracheitis and 3 indicating severe tracheitis.

The most common cause of tracheitis, and the one factor over which most immediate and direct control is made, is air quality. Air quality should always be of utmost importance because it can lead to various other respiratory problems, and good air quality can help to minimize problems caused by other disease conditions.