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Layer chicken loose/watery mucoid droppings

Published: August 9, 2019
By: Dr. Meesam Raza

The problem of loose dropping is common in layer chickens and it is often regarded as bacterial enteritis/dysbacteriosis. Apart from coccidiosis, what are the practical field observations that a poultry veterinarian encounters?

It can be discussed here with the causes and treatment, including the management practices that have been observed and practiced. How Dysbacteriosis and Bacterial enteritis differ in the clinical outcome? What is your Observation?

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Dr. Meesam Raza
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Kasame Trakullerswilai
Saha Farms
18 de junio de 2021

might be heat stress and bacterial enteritis, coccidiosis.
Necropsy will help.

Dr. Md. Beplob Hossain(DVM, MS Medicine)
5 de agosto de 2021
Basically loose motion cause by infectious and Non infectious. Infectious cause includes- 1. birds infected by salmonella & E.Coli, Clostridium spp with Pasteurella bacteria that vector source of Alkaline & iron containing water.Also source of wet litter in poultry & unclean feeder & drinker provide in longer time. 2. Virus (ND & IBD) may causes loose motion but here including high mortality 3. Rats carrying salmonella spp that flock affect salmonellsis causes loose motion. Non infectious cause includes- 1. Feed formulation imbalance specially high fiber & protein content, Mycotoxin effects, high salt in feed. 2. Higher environment temperature causes heat stress ultimately increase water intake comparatively decrease feed intake or normal intake Suggestions: 1. Use water sanitizer 2. Use Water PH containing Formic acid control coliform bacteria 3. In case birds rearing in litter, practices good quality litter management 4. High amonia control in shed using amonia reducer. 5. Use probiotic & prebiotic with Enzyme in feed. 6. Good quality feed ingredients use & provide balance ration.
Obed Cudjoe
26 de agosto de 2021
Mine are 21 weeks they are on battery cage and their droppings sometimes comes as clear as water. more like water that chicken dropping. Because of that the Manure is always wet and difficult to mange.
Zahed Abbasi
Toyoor Barekat co
28 de agosto de 2021
In my experience loose/watery mucoid in layer chicken is often due to nutritional factors 1- structure of mash feed when it is not coarse and most the particles are fine the retention time in gizzard is short and cant be under acid and pepsin of proventriculus and gizzard ,hence protein without change enters duodenum and not be digest by enzyme, pass through intestine will be used bye pathobionet bacteria in cecum they grow and result is imbalance microbiota , dysbiosis and some time necrotic enteritis . 2- anti nutrient and biogenic amine du to low quality soybean mill (under high or low temperature) they alter microbiota balance in intestine and the result is dysbiosis . 3- Feed and water contamination by bacteria or viruses or mycotoxins . Prevention and control : by making mash feed whit good structure , using pro and pre biotic in feed . disinfection in feed and water . 4- When dysbiosis is observed the treatment is am must by broad spectrum antibiotic especially effective on gram negative bacteria and clostridium like neomycin sulfate .
José Quinteros
19 de junio de 2023

Zahed Abbasi, I think that probiotic/prebiotic administration should be attempted before antimicrobials. This would reduce the emergence of AMR when antibiotics are used constantly. But I agree that this is a grey area open to debate.

Israel osesanmi
3 de septiembre de 2021
Which feed is the best for layers- mash or pellets?
Dr. Meesam Raza
17 de junio de 2023

Israel osesanmi mash is suggested.. along with strategies to reduce feed wastage.. which may affect the economics.

Zahed Abbasi
Toyoor Barekat co
4 de septiembre de 2021
Hi Dear Israel : about using crumble or pellet feed to layer there is no any breeding company to recommendation to layer in production period because structure is formed from fine particle of feed and cant stay for long time in gizzard hence digestion cant be complete and the result is dysbiosis ,mortality and lose of production . In rearing period they recommend to feed crumble for 4 week then change it to mash .
Dr Charles Ibe
4 de septiembre de 2021
Zahed AbbasiYou are on the spot!
Akpotoge israel
14 de septiembre de 2021
Zahed Abbasi thankd
Chris Morrow
Bioproperties PTY Ltd
3 de junio de 2023

What about brachyspira. - look it up in diseases of poultry

Zahed Abbasi
Toyoor Barekat co
4 de junio de 2023
Dear Chris Morrow : I Tried to isolate brachyspira from intestine of mortality but not successful .
Chris Morrow
Bioproperties PTY Ltd
4 de junio de 2023
This is not my area of expertise butI think there are some PCRs which may be better for you to do this. Also silver staining of histology sections could help. Swine labs know all about Brachyspira but I suspect there are none local. Cheers chris PS Mortality is not a feature of Brachyspira infection
Peter Groves
6 de junio de 2023

I have seen this problem associated with poor digestion and too much protein getting to the lower GI. Allows fermentation in the caeca and frothy yellow droppings. Also seen with poor gizzard development and distended proventriculus. Increased fibre can help sometimes.
Probiotics improve droppings sometimes. I find plain white vinegar helps (1 L / 1000 L) faecal consistency twice weekly (NOT apple cider vinegar) - old treatment but it works!
Must check for worms and necrotic enteritis.

Hafez Mohamed
Free University of Berlin
7 de junio de 2023

Peter Groves, did you make any laboratory investigation with the aim to exclude infectious causes?

Nelson Ruíz
Nelson Ruíz Nutrition LLC
12 de junio de 2023

Mr. Peter Groves, do these photos reflect what you are observing on your farm? If so, please contact me at nelsonruiz@nelsonruiznutrition.com.

Nelson Ruiz

George Entz
15 de junio de 2023
Nelson Ruiz, Curious, what is the disease or cause of what is shown in the pictures?
Nelson Ruíz
Nelson Ruíz Nutrition LLC
18 de junio de 2023

George Entz. Hello George, the photos show typical excreta of broilers exposed to high trypsin inhibitors in the diet either from soybean meal or from full-fat soybeans or both. In my response to Dr. Rob Patterson June 16/2023 (https://en.engormix.com/feed-machinery/feedstuffs/trypsin-inhibitor-exposure-being_a52808/) I provided my explanation of how trypsin inhibitors elicit rapid feed passage in broilers which Europeans call dysbacteriosis. This type of excreta is not exclusive to excess intake of trypsin inhibitors since rancid fats and oils in the diet can elicit a similar (although not identical) picture. However, in my experience of several years in different geographies I have not been able to correlate rapid feed passage with either biogenic amines or mycotoxins as some colleagues suggest.

George Entz
18 de junio de 2023
Nelson Ruiz, I see this type of dropping in every flock, but at a low % level of the birds. In flocks where it has been really noticeable, I feel the problem has been due to a subclinical NE / Cocci Vaccine over-cycling issue. Adding a protease, decreasing SBM, or increasing the mash particle size showed no improvements when the problem was 'noticeable". In following flocks, with the same diets, but better cocci -management the problem was more at what I call at a "normal level." I agree that it becomes more noticeable with higher feed intake - > 21 days. What is the daily mg/g of body weight of Anti - trypsine you wouldn't exceed after day 21?
Nelson Ruíz
Nelson Ruíz Nutrition LLC
19 de junio de 2023

George Entz
Soybean meal (SBM) is the predominant supplier of digestible amino acids in commercial poultry diets. I don´t know how predominant is SBM where you are or where you visit flocks. But if SBM is from 20% on in the formula of broiler feeds it is likely that you will see rapid feed passage in the excreta of any flock of broilers. SBM, to the best of my knowledge, continues to be at a lower inclusion than 20% (maybe at 15-17%) in layer feeds. In addition, laying hens maintain feed intakes in the order of 110-120 grams daily while broilers at the end of the cycle (depending on how long is the cycle) may be at 240-250 grams of daily feed intake. Therefore, it is not surprising that rapid feed passage is rarely observed in the excreta of laying hens.
Now, you suggest a correlation between rapid feed passage and cocci/NE management. I have seen slides by Dr. Hofacre (Southern Poultry Research Group, GA) in which he shows photos of rapid feed passage excreta and saying that they are signs of subclinical necrotic enteritis without further elaboration or specific data. I am not a veterinarian, I am a chemist-poultry nutritionist that have been dealing with SBM quality for decades, Ruiz and Belalcazar reported at the Poultry Science Association meeting in 2005 for the first time the correlation between trypsin inhibitors in soy and rapid feed passage in broilers. In my experience, I have been exposed to a very few cases of clear tenella coccidiosis AND rapid feed passage SIMULTANEOUSLY. In the tens of rapid feed passage outbreaks that I have dealt with cocci has not been a factor to the best of my knowledge. Also in my experience control of trypsin inhibitors in the formula leads to manageable levels of rapid feed passage. In my opinion (only my opinion) a cocci outbreak accompanied with a rapid feed passage outbreak is just a coincidence. One last point: all of my observations in reference to rapid feed passage have been in the tropics under heat stress conditions. We are working now in determining how much heat stress is part of the syndrome. Recent work under control conditions (thermo-neutral conditions) in a broiler study at the University of Georgia showed that indeed the signs of rapid feed passage (undigested feed and intestinal tissue in the excreta) occur as trypsin inhibitors in the diet increase, but the “dramatic-looking” excreta in the photos that I shared in Engormix didn´t show up, suggesting that heat stress may be an exacerbating factor. Nevertheless, the experimental treatments containing the higher levels of trypsin inhibitors resulted in significantly lower body weights. Nelson Ruiz Nutrition, LLC Suwanee, GA USA

George Entz
21 de junio de 2023
Nelson Ruiz, I'm from Canada. Diets in the East are corn/soymeal based, but where I'm at in western part it's wheat/corn/soymeal/ HF canola meal, most of the times. When diets drop below 20% soymeal, >20 days, the growth of the broilers tends to slow down. There are some AA's not accounted for because they are too expensive to add. I will look back in the diets and see if I find a correlation between TI level/heat stress (summer months) and gain in flocks of the past. Thank-you for your time and advice.
Nelson Ruíz
Nelson Ruíz Nutrition LLC
23 de junio de 2023
George Entz Precision nutrition and return on investment go hand in hand. If synthetic amino acids are too expensive to be added, it means that least-cost formulation is not taken them when they are offered in the formula, and consequently they are not contributing to decrease formulation cost. But precise nutrition is for the optimization of formulation that should be reflected in performance. My basic understanding of poultry economics and nutrition is that it is the cost per kg of live weight (of course , it can be cost per kg of breast, or something else) what counts in a poultry integrated business, not the cost per MT of feed. Soybean meal (SBM) is, in most geographies, the most economical source of digestible amino acids, and synthetic amino acids are normally taken by least-cost formulation to supplement and meet amino acid requirements. However, if a specific lot of soybean meal is OVERPROCESSED as reflected by KOH protein solubility below 80%, or if it is UNDERPROCESSED as reflected by trypsin inhibitors at 6 TUI/mg and above (per the AOCS [2020] method), then adjustments in the formulation of that lot of SBM is what precision formulation should achieve. For this reason NRN, LLC and University of IL delivered to the industry regression equations to adjust formulation for digestible lysine and arginine for commercial SBM that have undergone the Maillard reaction (Abstracts M105 & M106, IPSF, Atlanta, January 2022). Nelson Ruiz Nutrition LLC, Suwanee, GA USA
George Entz
28 de junio de 2023
Nelson Ruiz, Thank-you for those insights. I agree that Least Cost formulation is "outdated", but in Canada where the price of meat increases as the cost to produce it does, the differences aren't so great as in other countries. I have used non-LP (MPFF) similar to spreadsheets found like this, https://www.canadaanimalnutritionist.com/ for a few years now. Even then, the cost for synthetic AA's like Isoleucine, Arginine, Valine and Glycine are prohibiting to be used a lot in diets in my country.
Martin Smith
Evonik Animal Nutrition
30 de junio de 2023
George Entz; in addition to Dr. Ruiz comments, I would observe that Least Cost Formulation is not outdated! Its value is directly related to the information used to arrive at a solution, and the accurate definition of the solution required. Assuming that the aims are to produce poultry meat as economically as possible, but facing external constraints such as manure nitrogen levels, use of additional pure amino acids becomes all but essential. Another proviso is that all animal requirements and raw material descriptions are based on digestible nutrients ie that part of a nutrient actually used by the animal. Finally, I would point you to a service called AMINORed, that can provide timely and accurate data on the impact of processing on a variety of protein sources, enabling people to be confident they have balanced feeds correctly MPS
Paul Cotter
7 de junio de 2023
Was mononucelosis aka blue-comb ruled out?
Dr. Meesam Raza
8 de junio de 2023
Paul Cotter yes
Hafez Mohamed
Free University of Berlin
14 de junio de 2023
Dr. Meesam Raza good information. Hafez Mohamed, Berlin-Germany
Hector Cervantes
University of Georgia
17 de junio de 2023

Intestinal spirochaete infections in laying hens are frequently overlooked. In addition to reduced egg production and growth rates, delayed onset of egg production, and increased feed consumption, they can also result in wet droppings. The two pathogenic species more commonly involved are Brachyspira intermedia and B. pilosicoli. They should be ruled out in a case like yours.

Zahed Abbasi
Toyoor Barekat co
18 de junio de 2023
Hi George Entz : The pictures that Mr Nelson Ruis has shown are the most problem that are seen specially in broiler and are called" Feed Passage " the mean reason is that intestinal microbiota changes to a harmful population and the causes for this change in microbiota in intestine can be from feed like soybean meal whit antinutrient or biogenic amine in it , very fine mash or crumble , heat stress, coccidiosis and .... the condition in intestine is called "dysbacteryosis or dysbiosis . The other causes of loose/watery mucoid dropping in layer is contamination of water and biofilm in pipes that can contain a lot of bacteria like E-cli -salmonella or pseudomonas .
Daniel Mc Elroy
20 de junio de 2023
Zahed Abbasi salmonella would be the first call the next to follow would ecoli and you dont want that apple vinagar needs to be added to the water 25mm per 5 litre to stop the rot
Zahed Abbasi
Toyoor Barekat co
22 de junio de 2023
Hi again to all: When i mentioned the biogenamin and mycotoxin i mean to induce dysbacteriosis not feed passage , when feed passage occurs we are facing dysbacteriosis but the kind of extra will be different in relation to condition and the cause .
Dr Kotaiah Talapaneni
Indbro Research & Breeding Farms
7 de julio de 2023
Layer flocks in cages middle aged at highest peak have less possibility of coccidiosis and necrotic enterprise. Still many flocks show watery droppings. Now a days most of the layer farmers go for least cost formulations, use many sources of protein and stretch Fibre levels to the maximum extent acceptable. There must be some non infection based reasons for this. We tried products like halquinol which reduces gut motility and enzymes. They did help but did not solve problems. The problem is more serious in some farms. Studying the mineral levels in water of those farms may give a lead.
Surinder Maini
9 de julio de 2023

It could be a mycotoxin or a combination of mycotoxins, causing inflammation and mucoid discharge

Surinder Maini
9 de julio de 2023
To reduce irritation the birds drink more water causing loose droppings, as mucous is insoluble in water, overtime it evaporates leaving behind mucoid dropping, confusing the Vets to diagnose properly
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