Intussusception in Broiler Breeder Pullets

Dr. Sushil  Kumar Dhariwal

Breeder and Hatchery operation consultant.
Royal Poultry Consultancy Services, Karnal, Haryana.


Recently we have started seeing the so- called cases of prolapse/picking in broiler breeder growing flocks aged 4th week to 15th week, mainly post feed restriction. The birds usually die during feeding time but some birds die during remaining time of the day also. Normally 1-5% depletion in female birds is there. This problem is Intussusception.

What is Intussusception

Intussusception is telescoping of lower part of intestine(jejunum) , caused by violent  reverse peristaltic movements of intestine , triggered due to hunger stress leading to mortality. This happens in feed restricted  grower pullet female of broiler breeders mainly.

On post-mortem –

  • Birds are anemic , telescoped jejunal part of intestine as shown in picture , blood in crop and proventriculus .
  • There is clotted blood on face and cloacal area of bird and in few cases , when severity is more, small or large part of intestine is prolapsed out of cloacal opening.

 Pre-disposing factors-

  • Feed restriction in grower  birds to keep the body weight up to required recommended standards by the breeding company , is the main reason for Intussusception. Only  female birds  are having problem as males are getting more allowance post feed restriction at 3rd week of age.
  • Any problem which leads to non-uniform feed intake which might be due to non-uniform feed distribution, less feeding space or more competition in non-uniform sized birds.
  • Poor chick quality , yolk sac infection, gout or any other disease outbreak  which make birds non- uniform.
  • Coccidiosis, Enteritis , Necrotic Enteritis and Endoparasites.
  • Overcrowding at any stage leading to more competition and non -uniform feed intake  , like after 100% grading , overweight grade birds getting less feed, also leads to the problem of Intussusception.
  • Overweight birds in first 2-4 weeks of age , make birds more prone to intussusception as later feed provision in growing tends to be less to control body weight.
  • Nutritional Imbalance- high CP% in chick feed and less ME in growing feed increases the problem.
  • Genetic factor – Certain breeds of broiler breeder are more susceptible.

How to control Intussusceptions

  1. Good start to chicks

Ensure  minimum depletions in first  week  by using some good antibiotic and anti- Mycoplasma drug followed by some good probiotics which will ensure better uniformity%.

  1. Proper brooding and growing space

Routine  24”X 15”  size brooding cum growing cage- 8-10 chicks only while brooding and then keep on giving space from 2nd week, 6 female and 5 male per cage up to only 5th week, 5 female and 4 male up to 9th week , and 4 female and 3 male per cage only up to  maximum 14th week of age.

  1. Gut health of birds
  • Use good pre-biotics, probiotics, postbiotics, essential-oil based products, butyrates or bacteriophages etc. ensure  good intestinal health of the bird.
  • AGPs can be used if required to treat the Enteritis or NE . However use of antibiotics might increase problem due to intestinal thinning caused by its use, so use judiciously.
  • Coccidiosis prevention and control is must as normally Coccidiosis outbreak make bird prone to Enteritis and Necrotic Enteritis which further aggravates the problem. Amprolium, Toltazuril and Supha drug preparation are used to prevent/ treat Coccidiosis.
  • Deworming to control worm infestation required not only in deep litter/ slat housed birds but mandatory to control in cage housed birds also. Anthelmintic drugs like Levamisole, Albendazole etc.  used to control worm infestations.
  1. Balanced nutrition
  • Two phase chick feeding- up to 4th week- give 2800 Kcal ME and 18.5% CP
  • -5th and 6th week- give 2800 Kcal ME and 17% CP
  • In growing feed – go for not less than 2750 Kcal ME. More ME means more energy available with the birds to fulfill the satiety of the birds preventing violent reverse peristaltic movement of intestine.

 ( Earlier  nutrient recommendation from VHL of 21% CP in chick feed and 2600 Kcal ME in grower feed led to more intussusceptions, now new grower feed recommendation is 2750 Kcal of ME.)

  • -Need to have balanced Dietary Fiber% also along with required Metabolizable Energy.
  1. Feeding management
  • Restrict feed of female and males by 15-16th day of age.
  • Feeding time should be less and uniform feeding. Cup feeding is better than plate feeding , being more uniform.
  • Feeding should start at same time every day , start from same shed and same row every day and feeding should complete within almost same time every day.
  • Try to avoid shifting of feed from morning to evening during 100% grading by weight.
  • In Mash feed- particle size should be coarse which helps in better crop and gut development of birds.
  • Diluted feed, in terms of CP%, giving more daily feed allowance, helps in reducing the competition and more uniformity of the flock.
  • Black-out housing in growing , meant for reducing the effect of season on flock’s performance , also helps to some extent in controlling intussusception.

Article based on field experience mainly. *Ref. available on request