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Securing caponage hygiene | Succeed Poultry

Formerly a luxury dish, the chicken capon has retained its image as an exceptional product of French gastronomy, while becoming widely democratized. According to Synalaf, approximately 1.4 million red label chickens are caponized almost exclusively to be consumed at the end of December, to which must be added about 300,000 guinea fowl label capons and approximately one million non-label chicken capons.

Obtaining these capons requires a surgical intervention carried out by competent, non-veterinary personnel, as permitted by the regulations (order of October 5, 2011).

In practice, confident professional chaponeurs are called upon by label and organic production organisations, or even independent breeders. A team can operate several thousand chickens per day, provided that the site is well organized. For several years now, veterinarians have accompanied these sites to check and guarantee compliance with hygiene conditions and the well-being of the animals. This is the case of Doctor Mokrane Mellal, a practitioner in Brittany. He shared his advice with us a few weeks before the start of the chaponing season.

Limit poultry stress

To facilitate the intervention and recovery of poultry, it is recommended to operate on chickens up to 3-4 weeks old (700-800 g live weight). Their low feathering facilitates the asepsis of the operating field.

Chickens for operation are healthy and weigh no more than 700-800 gr. © A. Puybasset

Before the intervention, the poultry are fasted sufficiently early, so that the intestines are empty to facilitate the extraction of the two gonads through the incision made. The poultry have been on a total diet since the day before (12 hours maximum according to the regulations). Previously, they received rehydrating agents to compensate for the start of the food diet.

To limit the risk of aspergillosis, breeders can spray antifungals (enilconazole type) the two previous days. It is also recommended not to mulch again to limit the load of airborne particles.

Poultry are placed in waiting boxes for as short a time as possible and high up (trestle if possible). © Vet&Sphere

Just before being operated on, all the birds are placed in waiting crates. “Avoid stacking the filled crates, ideally placed on trestles for better ventilation”, explains the veterinarian. At this age, a maximum of 29-30 animals per crate of 55 by 80 centimeters (180 to 200 cm) should be placed.2 per individual). “And of course, the waiting time between crating and operation is short. »

During construction, the optimum temperature for intervention is 26-27°C in the building., corresponding to the set temperature and less tiring for workers. A construction site must take place in peace by minimizing noise, a source of stress for the animals. Some breeders put on music.

After the intervention, the capons are released in the building separately from the females. They have immediate access to water and food.

Reduce the risk of infection

A farm not being a surgery room, total asepsis is illusory, but it can be approached.

Chickens ready for surgery. After spraying the disinfectant solution, no one touches the operating field. © Vet&Sphere

Just before the operation, a first assistant positions the poultry while a second sprinkles the operating field with a disinfectant solution (0.05% chlorhexidine gluconate). “After this spraying, you should never pass your hand over the plumage, because it is necessarily loaded with bacteria”emphasizes the veterinarian.

As for the caponeur, he never touches the animals he operates. After each series of operated poultry, instruments are disinfected by soaking in 0.5% disinfectant.

Support the bird before and after the operation

To specifically accompany caponnage, the veterinarian recommends a course of vitamins and reinforcements distributed the day before in the drinking water. It continues for the next two days by adding herbal products or essential oils to accelerate wound healing.

We do not intervene on a sick bird. In some cases, an autopsy can be performed the day before, to examine the condition of the air sacs, a frothy appearance may raise suspicion of colibacillosis.

Have good general hygiene

The vehicles of the speakers park at a good distance from the building. © A. Puybasset

The arrival of the eight workers (2 caponeurs with 6 catchers and manipulators) necessary for a 400 m building2 (2,200 roosters to be operated on), is prepared from the parking to be located at a good distance from the farm.

Mokrane Mellal recommends spraying the wheels and underbody of vehicles with disinfectant. © A. Puybasset

Mokrane Mellal recommends spray the wheels and underbody of vehicles with disinfectant, knowing that they circulate from farm to farm.

The outfits and shoes must be clean and specific at each construction site. Do not forget the intervention equipment (tables, temporary storage boxes, instruments, headlamps, small equipment) which was cleaned and disinfected at the end of the previous work.

The sanitary airlock, with at least two areas (dirty and clean), must be equipped and used by everyone (water, soap, hydro-alcoholic gel, disposable paper towel available). © A. Puybasset

The sanitary airlock, with at least two areas (dirty and clean), must be equipped and used by everyone (water, soap, hydro-alcoholic gel, disposable paper towel available).

The main difficulty is to enforce biosecurity during construction, especially during breaks and at the end of the construction site. when fatigue sets in, notes the veterinarian. I recommend delimiting a disinfected outdoor space (lime on the ground for example) with two footbaths (liquid disinfectant then lime) before returning to the building. » Boot sacks can also be put on when going out.

Support and advice from the veterinarian

“To be sure not to forget anything, the breeder should make his checklist and update it as he goes along,” says Dr. Mokrane Mellal © Vet&Sphère

“Gone are the days when antibiotics were used preventively on capons, relates Mokrane Mellal. Now, we favor non-drug alternatives, such as the Alterbiotic approach of the Cristal group. Antibiotics are really our last resort for treating sick poultry. »

In partnership with the production organization, veterinarians can:

Train the speakers (seasonal catchers and new capon hunters) good biosecurity practices, hygiene and animal protection;

Prepare prophylaxis plans (PSE) adapted to each capon farm according to their health context. Last year, Mokrane Mellal noted in a farm mortality at 22 weeks, linked to Ornithobacterium. “In reality, a pneumovirus was ‘hiding’ behind this opportunistic bacterium. I advocated a fathead vaccination for this year’s capons. » Knowing the bacteriological quality of drinking water is also a prerequisite;

Visit each construction site of chaponnage to rectify the situation if necessary and supervise the intervention of chaponnage;

Carry out the health report of the season passed with the organization and/or the breeder before restarting the season.

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