Blackhead, also known as Histomoniasis, is caused by the protozoan parasite Histomonas meleagridis. This parasite invades the caecal mucosa and spreads, via the blood, to the birds’ liver and caecum where lesions occur. It is a serious disease for turkeys and can cause huge economic losses for producers as a result of poor performance and an incredibly high flock mortality.
Although both chickens and turkeys are susceptible to the disease, the symptoms appear most severe in turkeys. There are both physical symptoms and behavioural signs which are indicative of blackhead disease, including; lethargy, reduced appetite, anorexia and drooping wings. However, the most definitive symptom of blackhead disease is the production of yellow-coloured exctrea.
There are currently no licenced medications for treatment of blackhead in the UK. Historically, dimetronidazole, an antimicrobial with anti-protazoal properties was used, however this has now been banned for use in the EU. Therefore finding a safe, natural alternative for turkey producers is massively important.
Disruption to the life-cycle of the blackhead parasite is the best way to reduce the impact of the disease. Increasing the turnover of epithelial cells lining the intestinal wall means that the parasites are shed before they have the opportunity to reproduce, penetrate the gut lining and migrate to the liver and caecum where they would usually cause lesions. Oregano essential oil (OEO) has many properties, including antimicrobial, antioxidant and immunomodulatory functions. It also possess anti-protozoal properties as the active ingredients in OEO results in the rapid replacement of epithelial cells lining the intestinal wall.
Orego-Stim, manufactured by Anpario, is a consistently high quality source of 100% natural OEO. In poultry species it has been shown to: