Climate change increases disease threat to geese

Warmer, wetter conditions resulting from climate change are changing the lifecycle of some parasites.

Speaking at the annual British Goose Producers farm walk at Peach Croft Farm, Oxfordshire, David Parsons of The Poultry Health Centre, Somerset highlighted reports that this year’s warm, wet weather had resulted in the lifecycle of gape worms falling from the typical 18-21 days down to 14 days.

He believes a similar effect could occur with Amidostomum anseris, which is an important gut nematode in geese. They colonise the gizzard and affect young birds. They go off their food and start wasting away.

“You’ve got to bear global warming in mind when reviewing worming programmes. Lice and other parasites will also take advantage of the more favourable conditions.”

Also crucial in disease control is knowing the source of goslings. This was highlighted by the 2008 case of goose parvovirus in the UK, in goslings imported from Denmark.

A proportion of the 1100 imported birds were subsequently moved to three other units.

“It is a nasty disease where you see poor fertility and hatchability with mortality up to 100%. It affects day olds up to six week olds and birds tend to have a nasal discharge and lose their down. Those that do survive exhibit stunting,” said Mr Parsons, who recommended sticking with home-bred geese where possible.

While goose parvovirus is specific to geese, there are a number of diseases that are carried by other species such as sheep and pigs.

One example is erysipelas. “If potentially infected sheep have been housed in buildings before geese, thorough cleaning is essential.”

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