Experimental infection of broiler breeder hens with the intestinal spirochaete Brachyspira (Serpulina) pilosicoli causes reduced egg production

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-175
Journal / PublicationAvian Pathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


The pathogenic potential of the anaerobic intestinal spirochaetes Brachyspira (Serpulina) pilosicoli and Brachyspira innocens was evaluated in adult chickens. Thirty 17-week-old Cobb broiler breeder hens were individually caged in three groups of 10 birds. Control birds (group A) were sham inoculated with sterile broth medium. Birds in the other two groups (groups B and C) were inoculated, respectively, with an isolate of B. innocens or of B. pilosicoli. Birds were monitored daily, and killed at 41 weeks of age. Infection had no consistent effect on body weight gain, but inoculation with B. pilosicoli resulted in a transient increase in faecal water content. B. innocens infection had no effect on egg production, but B. pilosicoli infection caused a delayed onset of laying, and a highly significant reduction in egg production over the first 11 weeks of lay. This study confirms that B. pilosicoli can cause serious egg production losses in adult chickens, while B. innocens is not obviously pathogenic.