Improving respiratory vaccine applications
Because of the high volume of poultry produced in the U.S. (nearly 9 billion in 2015), chickens must be vaccinated in an efficient manner with mass application scalability. This has traditionally been accomplished by a spray cabinet used in the hatchery, wherein the infectious bronchitis virus vaccines are sprayed onto the chicks as they move through the hatchery. This spray system is mechanically simple and easy to operate and is easily scalable for mass poultry production, but outbreaks of infectious bronchitis occur year after year in commercial poultry operations. To better understand why outbreaks of IB continue to occur in the face of heavy vaccination, UGA poultry scientists investigated the efficacy and efficiency of the spray application system to determine weaknesses or points of failure that could be affecting the proper administration of IBV vaccines. They were able to show that the application process is not as efficient as they once thought, and that there are many areas where failure can occur and improvements can be made. Based on this research, they made many recommendations to the poultry industry on ways to improve their vaccination processes for IBV. Based on these recommendations, most hatcheries are now refrigerating their vaccine diluent before mixing to help prevent IBV vaccine destruction due to temperature. They are also applying IBV vaccines in larger volumes, since the larger application volumes were more efficient at delivering vaccine to the chicks. Hatcheries are also taking advantage of the UGA vaccine combination research, and are mixing IBV and coccidia vaccines together to make the process more streamlined. All of these recommendations will improve the efficiency and efficacy of spray vaccination in the hatchery, but there are still points in the system that cannot be adjusted to reduce their effect on the overall system. For this reason, the poultry scientists designed a new spray application cabinet to remove the pieces of the system that were detrimental. This spray cabinet has been licensed by a major poultry vaccine company and has been placed in several hatcheries across the United States for field testing, with plans to release the system nationwide and possibly worldwide.