Amongst food-producing animals, the chicken species ranks highest in its ability to convert feed into high energy food products (meat and eggs) for human consumption.
In the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, the chicken population represents 13.2% of the total Vietnamese chicken production. Helminth infections (also called helminthiasis) are considered as one of the most significant constraints to poultry production due to the humid tropical climatic conditions of Vietnam, which are favorable for faster propagation and development of the larval stages of helminth parasites, and the lack of biosecurity and levels of hygiene on farms. Although these helminthic infections are rarely fatal they often cause heavy economical losses to poultry farmers due to reduced productivity (meat and eggs). In addition, some helminths also act as carriers of pathogenic agents. Despite this, the impact of helminthic infections on production traits in poultry has not been precisely evaluated in the region.
ViParc aims at investigating the prevalence and burden of infestation of gastrointestinal helminths in small-scale (<2,000) meat chicken flocks in Dong Thap province (Mekong Delta) and the risk factors associated with parasitic infestations. This work is carried out in collaboration with Dr. Alexis Ribas of the University of Barcelona (Spain).
Our preliminary results indicate evidence of parasites in 61% chickens. There is a strong association between helminth counts at slaughter age and chicken weight. Further studies will be necessary to determine the best preventive measures to help reduce parasitic burdens and therefore reduce the incidence of helminthiasis and associated costs to poultry producers in the region.