The evaluation of feeding, mortality and oviposition of poultry red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) on aging hens using a high welfare on-hen feeding device [version 1; peer review: 2 approved]

A study was performed to examine any effect of hen age on the feeding ability and mortality of different life-stages of Dermanyssus gallinae [Poultry Red Mite (PRM)] when fed using a high welfare, on-hen mite feeding device. Mite feeding assays were carried out every two weeks on a cohort of five Lohman Brown hens with devices containing adult and deutonymph PRM or adult and protonymph PRM. Feeding rates and mortality of each PRM life stage and oviposition of adult female PRM were evaluated over an 18-week period. There was a significant reduction in oviposition rates of female PRM as they fed on hens of increasing age. However, no clear trend was detected between the feeding rates of all three haematophagous life stages and hen age. The same conclusion was reached regarding mite mortality post-feeding in both deutonymph and adult female PRMs, although a weak positive association was apparent between hen age and protonymph PRM mortality. This study shows that the on-hen feeding device can be used both for short term studies to assess novel anti-PRM products (new acaricides, vaccines etc.) and longer, longitudinal studies to determine longevity of the effects of such novel anti-PRM products. It also demonstrates that blood feeding by mites on older hens is less able to sustain PRM populations than feeding on younger hens. This on-hen mite feeding device directly impacts upon reduction and refinement by greatly reducing the numbers of birds required per experimental group compared to traditional PRM challenge infestation models and by eliminating the need for birds to be exposed to large numbers of mites for extended periods of time that can cause welfare concerns. This paper describes the methodology for these studies and how to assemble pouches and handle mites both before and after feeding assays.
Refereed journal
Output Tags
WP 2.2 Livestock production, health, welfare and disease control (RESAS 2016-21)