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A pilot study to detect coccidiosis in poultry farms at early stage from air analysis

Grilli, Guido, Borgonovo, Federica, Tullo, Emanuela, Fontana, Ilaria, Guarino, Marcella, Ferrante, Valentina
Biosystems engineering 2018 v.173 pp. 64-70
air, air quality, algorithms, antibiotic resistance, antibiotics, bags, broiler chickens, coccidiosis, drugs, farmers, feces, health status, intensive farming, oocysts, precision agriculture
Nowadays, the preventive use of antibiotics in intensive farming system is common and this management practice lead to the spreading of drugs in the environment, contributing to the phenomena of antibiotic resistance. For this reason, different professional figures work on the development of drug reduction strategies. Due to the high priority of this issue, early detection of any health problem is of great importance in intensive farming. Precision Livestock Farming (PLF), through the combination of cheap technologies and specific algorithms, can provide valuable and rapid information for farmers starting from the huge amount of data that can be collected in real time at farm level. A prototype, able to give information about air fingerprint, was developed and tested in an experimental poultry farm in order to observe if air quality data were related to the presence of coccidiosis. Air samples were collected once a week in Nalophan® bags and transported to the laboratory for instrumental analysis. The prototype was able to discriminate between infected and not infected pens at a very early stage, when only 250 oocysts g−1 [faeces] (opg) were present in one pen. These results were also confirmed by analysing air samples in a commercial poultry farm, since all samples were correctly classified by the prototype in infected or not infected pen. This pilot study has shown that this technology could be installed in farms to continuously monitor health status of broilers, supporting farmers in the sustainable management of their activities.