A two-year prospective study of small poultry flocks in Ontario, Canada, part 2: Causes of morbidity and mortality

Nancy M. Brochu, Michele T. Guerin, Csaba Varga, Brandon N. Lillie, Marina L. Brash, Leonardo Susta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-commercial poultry flocks (referred to as “small flocks”) have become increasingly popular in Canada. Despite this popularity, little is known about the main causes of morbidity and mortality (health status) in these flocks. We assessed the baseline prevalence of infectious and non-infectious diseases among Ontario’s small poultry flocks by conducting a prospective surveillance study over a 2-y period. With the owner’s consent, for each bird (n = 245) submitted to the Animal Health Laboratory, we performed a postmortem examination, including ancillary tests to reach a diagnosis. Infectious diseases were the most common primary cause of clinical signs or death (62%), with multifactorial respiratory diseases (21%) and Marek’s disease (11%) being most frequent. Multifactorial respiratory diseases were commonly caused by coinfection with bacteria (e.g., Mycoplasma gallisepticum and M. synoviae, Escherichia coli, Avibacterium spp.) and viruses, such as infectious bronchitis and infectious laryngotracheitis viruses. No federally reportable diseases were diagnosed. The health status of small flocks in Ontario has not been reported previously, to our knowledge, and the data presented herein will produce helpful baseline information for the development of technology transfer material directed to owners and veterinarians, which will ultimately aid in the control of diseases among these flocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-342
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • backyard flocks
  • epidemiology
  • health status
  • infectious bronchitis virus
  • infectious laryngotracheitis virus
  • Marek’s disease
  • mixed respiratory infection
  • mycoplasma
  • prevalence
  • prospective study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)

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