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Packaging of Samples

It will sometimes be necessary to send birds for post mortem or samples to the laboratory for further investigation. Below is advice on the best methods for doing this.

Post Mortems

Packaging birds or chicks for Post Mortem

Between 3 & 5 birds are required for a post mortem. Birds for post mortem must be securely packaged in accordance with the clients own local or national postal regulations.

  1. Wrap the birds in newspaper or similar absorbent material.
  2. Place in a bin liner or carrier bag and fasten.
  3. Enclose securely in a sturdy cardboard box. Please ensure they are completely concealed and that paperwork is enclosed in a separate clear plastic bag.

Please include the following information on submission form or write clearly on a piece of paper:

  • Full Name
  • Farm Address
  • Brief History of birds – age/ species/ recent medication etc
  • Reason for PM
  • Whether the birds have been picked up or culled for the PM
  • Contact Numbers for the vet to contact you on with results

Packaging of Laboratory Samples

Procedure for sending diagnostic samples:

Place samples containing fluids in watertight screw top containers. This is the primary container.

Surround samples in absorbent material/cellulose wadding or cotton wool. Fluid samples need to be surrounded in enough of this absorbent material to absorb all possible leakage in the event of damage.

Place the wrapped samples in a leak proof plastic bag and seal. This is the secondary container and together with the absorbent material should be able to contain all the contents of the primary container. Ideally use a zip lock plastic bag.

Complete the necessary submission forms and place outside of the zip lock sample bag.

Place into a larger postal bag or box and label with the following information.

  • “Pathological Specimen – Fragile – Handle with Care”.
  • Senders Name & Address and the address of the relevant Laboratory.

Ensure the correct postage is applied to your package.

Water Samples

Why take water samples?

It is important that the water supplied to your birds is of a high standard and clean. Birds will often drink preferentially from a stream or puddle and our clients often wonder why to bother with clean drinking water. Adult birds are less sensitive to infections in the water, but especially where you are rearing young stock indoors or in a more intensive system, warm water can harbor high levels of pathogenic bacteria. Header tanks can be a particular problem if not cleaned and covered as bacteria might multiply in a warm house. Bore holes are often not as clean as they should be and regular testing is a sensible precaution.

Taking samples

For full potable (drinking quality water) i.e. Borehole you are required to take a 500ml sample. If taking from a tap or stopcock, remember, if it has not been opened for some time there will be a build up of bacteria present that can affect your results. Therefore, clean around the tap or stopcock, heat if possible or wipe with alcohol wipe. Allow the water to run for 1-2 minutes. Fill a 500ml sample pot to within 1cm of top. Label container and send to laboratory immediately for testing, packaged correctly to avoid any leakages.

For In-farm or Shed Samples you will need to take a 20ml sample. Clean around the end drinker line or nipple with an alcohol wipe. Remove bung from end of line, pipe or nipple. Run water into a bucket for 1-2 minutes and discard. Fill up sample container and then send to laboratory immediately.

Blood Sampling

Blood testing allows your vet to investigate a wide range of diseases and develop a preventative vaccine program where necessary. Blood testing is not difficult but requires practice if it is not to cause pain to the bird. We would advise any bird owner who has not been trained to take your bird to a vet to be tested. If you are competent at blood testing, which is not a difficult task, then we can arrange for them to be tested.

You will need to be registered with us to have blood tests carried out, or ask your vet to send us blood samples for testing as required. We are very happy to discuss with your vet what blood tests we have available. We will be holding training courses on blood testing in the future.

When taking your blood samples, they should ideally be at least 2ml (i.e 3/4 full) to enable adequate separation of serum back at the laboratory.

Allow samples to clot at room temperature.

Ensure that the lids are fitted securely.

Faeces samples

This at least does not require a vet! The sample kit contains gloves and packaging to send the sample to us for testing for worms and coccidia infection. Most importantly you need to take a representative sample of the faeces which means that one sample from a flock of 50 birds is not enough. We need a sample from a wide range of birds. Please make sure the bag is well sealed before posting to the lab!

Feed sampling

We can arrange to test feed for oil, ash and protein. We can also check the levels of coccidiostat in the feed as well as checking the inclusion rates of various medications. Please contact us or your own vet for more details and to decide the test you require. It is important to ensure that a feed sample is representative of the feed being fed to the birds. A representative sample of about 1 kg is required in a clean bag.


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