Commercially-reared laying chickens were challenged at 31 weeks of age with a virulent infectious bronchitis (IB) virus. They showed a sharp drop in egg production, despite having been vaccinated at four and eight weeks old with live attenuated IB vaccines to a recommended schedule. In contrast, similar birds that had been further immunised at point-of-lay with inactivated oil emulsion IB vaccine, or with a combined IB/Newcastle disease (ND) emulsion vaccine, showed no detectable fall in egg production after the same challenge. Unvaccinated susceptible specific pathogen-free birds challenged at the same time stopped laying almost completely. In the birds revaccinated with emulsion vaccine, measurement of haemagglutination inhibition antibody levels to IB showed their geometric mean titres to be raised from less than 5 log2 at the time of vaccination to over 10 log2 four weeks later. Their antibody levels did not rise further followining the IB challenge whereas in the birds that had not been revaccinated antibody rises to nearly 10 log2 were detected after the same challenge. For pullets vaccinated earlier with live IB vaccine, revaccination with inactivated IB or IB/ND oil emulsion vaccine at point-of-lay provides a safe and effective way of protecting their egg production against IB infection.
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