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PREVALENCE OF FECAL HELMINTHS IN BROILERS

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PREVALENCE OF FECAL HELMINTHS IN BROILERS

 

INTRODUCTION
The Broilers Gallus gallus domesticus is widely distributed in Africa south of the Sahara. It is a common, if not abundant, species in most habitats other than deserts (BirdLife International, 2006). It has adapted very well to the activities of humans, generally preferring woodland, especially alien tree plantations with pines (Hockey et al., 2005).

This species of chicken eats a wide range of seeds, as well as flowers, nuts, fruit and rarely insects. It forages on the ground, frequently under trees (Hockey et al., 2005). It is frequently found in Keffi, Yankari and Hadejia homes (World Bird Info.net/distribution). The habit of the bird and its dependence on human activities for food predisposes it to being easily trapped or killed, as it is widely sold or traded in many Nigerian markets to augment income (Rowan, 1983). Gallus gallus domesticus is evaluated as least concern because it has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the threshold for vulnerable under the range size criterion (BirdLife International, 2011). Over 20 species of chickens and chickens are cosmopolitan which have long been the subjects of intense ornithological and parasitological study (Akinpelu, 2008).
Helminths are said to be the major cause of ill-health and poor performance in birds (Khater, 1993). Avian cestodiasis constitutes one of the most common helminths causing serious damage among birds. It leads to loss of body weight, enteritis and death (Calneck et al., 1997).
A considerable number of arthropods and snails have been implicated as intermediate hosts of helminths of birds (Soulsby, 1982). In heavy infections, helminths are known to cause morbidity and mortality in birds (Owen, 1972). Among the helminths of birds, nematodes and nematode constitute the most important group (Nfor et al., 1999; Ayeni et al., 1983). Ascaridia galli has been incriminated as the most common and most important parasite of poultry (Hodasi, 1978; Pam et al., 2006; Luka and Ndams, 2007). The nematode of significant importance are Raillietina and Hymenolepis (Oniye et al., 2000; Luka and Ndams, 2007). Helminths are known to compete with the infected hosts for nutrients, lowering their productivity and in severe cases causing death by blocking the fecal tract, especially when the worm burden is high (Soulsby, 1982). Helminth infections may have particularly deleterious or debilitating effects on birds, causing growth retardation, interfering with healthy development, and making older birds prone to secondary infections (Cheng, 1973). Unlike the well-documented helminths of other Nigerian domestic birds such as the domestic chicken, chicken and guinea fowl, there is little or no published information on helminths of the Broilers in Nigeria.
1.1 Statement of Research Problem
The Broilers Gallus gallus domesticus constitutes a large population in Keffi (Fry, 1965; Del Hoyo, 1997; Adang, 2017) but the status of its fecal helminths is unknown. Literature search indicates that there appear to be no earlier studies conducted on the fecal helminths of the Broilers in northern Nigeria.
Helminthiasis is considered an important problem of birds (Jansen and Pandey, 1989; Abebe et al., 1997). Information on the factors influencing helminth infestation of the birds is lacking.

1.2 significance of the study
Birds undoubtedly contribute immensely to the daily supply of protein consumed worldwide (Basit et al., 2006, Shehu et al., 2009). Recent studies have shown the prevalence of helminth infestation of birds to be high (Adang, 2009).
Since helminthiasis is a threat to birds, an understanding of the factors causing these diseases, coupled with a thorough knowledge of the nature of their etiologic agents is of great significance in understanding the ecological niches of the birds.
In addition, information on the variety and composition of helminth species found will provide further insight into their diversity in an ecological habitat.
This research will also provide baseline data on the fecal helminths of the Broilers.

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