Understanding Blackhead Disease
Blackhead disease is a disease that attacks the liver and ceca of poultry, causing lesions.It's caused by Histomonas meleagridis, spread by the roundworm Hererakis gallinarum. Blackhead disease eventually kills most infected turkeys. There is currently no approved treatment for blackhead disease.
Did You Know?
Turkeys are the number three agricultural commodity in North Carolina. (NCDA&CS)
Christina Sigmon Contributes to Pastured Poultry Project
NC Choices recently launched Niche Meat Teaching Resources to help North Carolinians get started with pastured animals.
Christina Sigmon worked with other project members, including poultry Area Specialized Agents, to create materials demonstrating how to safely process poultry for personal consumption or sale.
Christina Sigmon’s Good Habits Lead to Better Safety – and a CALS Award
Over the summer (2019), Christina Sigmon, Research Technician in Robert Beckstead’s lab, won a CALS Excellence in Safety award, but while the award is new, Sigmon’s commitment to safety is anything but.
Sigmon has worked in Scott Hall, home of the Prestage Department of Poultry Science (PDPS), under four different faculty researchers. In her time in various labs, she’s kept her focus on pairing safety with helping others.
Small Spaces, Big Impacts: Isolator Gift Helps Grow Research Program
In 2018, Robert Beckstead’s lab in the Prestage Department of Poultry Science (PDPS) was able to test 8 possible treatments for turkey and chicken diseases. In 2019, the lab has the potential to test close to 350. That’s 45 times as many tests!
How can one lab do so much more work in the same amount of time? By going small – and for Beckstead’s work, going small means isolators: small enclosures that let researchers separate animals and control environments.
NC State’s AFNC Awards First Grants for Foundational Research
In the summer of 2018, the new Animal Food & Nutrition Consortium (AFNC) in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University announced its first round of research grants of $50,000, both to researchers in the Prestage Department of Poultry Science.
Professor Robert Beckstead’s project will address “a clear need,” he said, to identify biomarkers that can be used to quickly measure areas of gut health as they relate to changes to the diet or addition of feed additives.
Beckstead Talks Turkey (Diseases, That Is) With Poultry Health Today
Robert Beckstead has a love/hate relationship with turkey diseases: he loves studying them because he hates the harm they do to turkey flocks.
Watch Beckstead explain his research and the need for disease prevention in an interview with Poultry Health Today.
Studies in Chickens Could Lead to Blackhead Control in Turkeys
from Poultry Health Today
Broiler breeders with blackhead disease could hold the answer to prevention of the disease in turkeys, Elle Chadwick, a graduate research assistant, North Carolina State University, told Poultry Health Today.
Broiler breeders are an ideal carrier for Histomonas — the cause of blackhead disease — but unlike turkeys that often die from the infection due to its impact on the liver, broiler breeders mount an immune response and survive. In fact, although a drop in weight was seen in chickens infected with Histomonas, egg production actually went up, Chadwick said.
One Turkey At A Time
CALS interviewed Beckstead in 2016 about his research agenda.
Blackhead disease can wipe out an entire turkey flock in weeks, causing millions of dollars in losses to farmers – but Associate Professor Robert Beckstead has a three-part research plan to figure out how to combat the disease. The last remaining legal treatment for the disease was taken off the market in January 2016, so Beckstead’s research is crucial to keep the flocks strong.