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Poultry diseases
Chicken astrovirus detected in hatchability problems associated with  ‘white chicks’
  1. Victoria Smyth1,
  2. James Trudgett1,
  3. Mildred Wylie1,
  4. Heather Jewhurst1,
  5. Bronagh Conway 1,
  6. Michael Welsh1,
  7. Eija Kaukonen 2 and
  8. Päivikki Perko-Mäkelä3
  1. 1Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Veterinary Sciences Division, Stoney Road, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3SD
  2. 2HK Agri Oy, Kariniementie 2, 27510 Eura, Finland
  3. 3 Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, Production Animal and Wildlife Research Unit, PO Box 198, FI-60101 Seinäjoki, Finland
  1. E-mail: victoria.smyth{at}afbini.gov.uk

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OVER the past two decades a hatchability condition, named ‘white chicks’, has been observed in day-old broiler chicks in several countries, including Finland, Norway, Sweden, the USA and Canada. Affected chicks are characterised by weakness and pale colouration and rarely survive more than 24 hours after hatching (Fig 1).

FIG 1:

Chick box before quality check containing normal chicks, poor quality white chicks, unhatched eggs and hatched shells

In Finland the first case occurred in a single farm in 2006 but since then it has been observed annually in varying numbers of flocks. Typically the breeder flocks become affected at 30 to 40 weeks of age and a transient egg drop of 3 to 10 per cent is often observed; this may last for a period of up to two weeks although it has persisted longer in flocks of poorer health status. More recently this egg drop has been less apparent …

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