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"To Represent The International Ostrich Industry Through Communication, Dissemination of Information and Provision of Industry Standards"

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Craig Culley, Secretary
World Ostrich Association
33 Eden Grange
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Carlisle, UK CA4 8QW
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Baby Chick Liver Comparison Study Propopsal

Study Proposal presented to Fiona Benson in 2002 by Adriaan Olivier, Chief Ostrich Vet at the Klein Karroo Group in Oudtshoorn. Submitted 9th May, 2002.


Aim – Elucidate the possible role of dietary formulations on hepatocellular changes in ostrich chicks during the first three weeks of life.

- Determine the normal hepatocellular structure in ostrich chicks
- Determine the changes of lipid and glycogen content in the hepatocyte over time
- Determine the possible influence of dietary formulation on hepatocellular structure and contents

Ostrich chick morbidity and mortality is one of the most limiting factors in successful and sustainable ostrich farming. There are a number of factors (management, nutrition, environment, disease causing agents and host) that are in a dynamic balance to ensure production (health, growth rate and feed conversion).

It has been one of the basic principals of chick rearing, that nutrition, and in particular dietary formulation plays a key role in successful chick rearing. It already starts at breeder level with optimal nutrition to ensure fertility, egg production, hatchability and survival. Observations by veterinarians, farmers and nutritionist during post mortems done on young chicks have noted the livers of these chicks being extremely mustard yellow in colour. The cause of these yellow livers have been associate with the presence of the yolk sac and its high lipid content for the first two weeks after which the liver becomes mottled red with a light-brown, pale yellow background and finally changing over a further week to a red, light brown colour seen in normal healthy chicks. Others however contribute this colour to unhealthy chicks suffering from some kind of metabolic disturbance due to imbalances in the ration formulation. This pilot study is to examine the livers of chicks from various ages over the three-week period for light microscopy changes that may elucidate the possible causes normal or abnormal of yellow livers.

1. 10 chicks each from breeders fed on two different commercial breeder rations. Hatched artificially. Raised according to one protocol.
2. 10 chicks from breeders in on veld pasture. Hatched artificially or by parents and raised on veld.

1. Both groups of 10 chicks will be raised according to an agreed upon protocol measuring, environmental temperature, feed intake and water consumption. It will also allow for the addition of multivitamin and amino acid. Chicks will be weighed at day old and then at weekly intervals. Birds will be identified by means of metal wing tags at day-old.
2. The natural breeder chicks will be weighed on weekly intervals.
3. One chick of each group wil be humanely euthanased after being randomly selected and undergo a complete post mortem. This will happen on day 0, 4, 7, 10, 14 and 21. Data recorded will be weight and yolk sac weight. Tissues collected for emersion buffered formalin will consist of liver (right and left lobes and hilar area) spleen, thymus, adrenal, brain, duodenum, pancreas, jejenum, ileum, ceacum, kolon, cloaca, kidney and heart. (Frozen liver section will also be collected for staining with Oil-Red-O for the examination of lipids in the liver).
4. The histological sections will be processed and stained (H&E and by the department of Pathology, National faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria)


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