Prof J O A Okoye  Dept of Vet Pathology and Microbiology        Group Leader
Prof J A Nwanta    Dept  of Vet Public Health and Preventive Medicine
Prof P A Abdu        Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
Prof S O Akpavie   University of Ibadan, Ibadan
Prof  Egbe Nwinyi  University of Maiduguri, Maiduguri
Dr M A Abubakar, DVM, MSc, PhD    Usman  Danfodio University, Sokoto
Dr Joannes  , DVM, MSc     National Veterinary Research Institute Vom
Dr J I Ibu DVM, MSc, PhD      University of Agriculture,  Makurdi
Dr A Igwe DVM, MSc             University of Agriculture,  Umudike
Prof J I Ihedioha         University of Nigeria, Nsukka
Prof I Ezeonu               University of Nigeria, Nsukka
Dr W S Ezema DVM, MSc, PhD    University of Nigeria, Nsukka
Dr E C Okwor, DVM, MSc, PhD    University of Nigeria, Nsukka
Dr D C Eze DVM, MSc                   University of Nigeria, Nsukka
Foreign Collaborators
1 Claudio Afonso , Lead Scientist
United States Department of Agriculture, South East Poultry Research Station,
Athens, Georgia, USA
2 Prof Corrie Brown
Department of Veterinary Pathology, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
Statement of the Problem
There is acute shortfall in the protein part of the food consumed daily by most Nigerians. Both meat, eggs and other sources of animals are scarce and expensive. Most Nigerians cannot afford to put eggs on their tables and eggs could be cheap sources of animal protein when produced  efficiently and cheaply under minimal or disease free environments like the ones in the developed countries of Europe and America. Most of their chicken layer farms operate at 90% egg productivity and above but this is the opposite in many farms in Nigeria. Any farm producing bellow 90% in USA may not break even because profit per crate is marginal. But huge daily turnover rakes in tons of money for the companies.  A survey we concluded few months ago showed that most Nigerian chicken layer farms are operating at 55-74% egg production rate. This makes the eggs very expensive and above the reach of the average Nigerian because the farmer has to recover the cost of his inputs and also make profit to care of his family needs. Diseases and infections make the difference between farms that are operating at 90% egg production rate and those that are producing at 60%. There is a set of diseases in poultry pathology known as egg production diseases. They are characterized mainly by either no mortality or low but persistent mortality. But they severely reduce egg production. These diseases include egg drop syndrome-76 , mycoplasmosis, colibacillosis, infectious bronchitis,  salmonellosis, fowl cholera ,lowly pathogenic avian influenza, Newcastle diseases and mycotoxicoses. The situation on the ground now  in Nigeria is that little or no work has been done to identify some of these diseases and their prevalence in Nigeria. Consequently, no official control program is in place except for Newcastle disease. Mycotoxicosis is a big problem in poultry production and the toxins include aflatoxin, the trichothecenes, moniliformin, fumonisins,  zearalenone, ochratoxins, oosporein , cyclopiazonic acid and others. They mainly adversely affect feed intake, growth and egg production. They are likely to be serious problems in our environment because of the high humidity and temperature which provide conducive condition for fungal growth. The situation on the ground now is that little or nothing is known about the presence of most of these diseases and their prevalence in the Nigerian poultry industry. For most of these diseases the aetiologic agents will need to be characterized to know the serotypes parasitizing our poultry for effective control programme. Some of these aetiologic agents are important human pathogens
Aim of the Project
The aim of this project therefore is to conduct a national survey of the possible diseases that are seriously affecting egg production in Nigerian chicken layer farms

Materials and Methods
1 Serological Survey:  This will require collection of a minimum of 200 serum samples from layers in each State  and Federal Capital Territory. Assay will be by ELISA using commercial coated plates. Serum samples will be assayed for the antibodies to pathogens mentioned above.
2 Immunohistochemical survey: This will also require collection of fresh tissue samples from 100 dead layers from all the states and Abuja Federal Capital Territory. The immunoperoxidase method will be used. Sections will be stained for the antigens of the pathogens mentioned above.
3 The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is important for avian influenza screening

Equipment and Materials Required
1 Automated ELISA Reader with Computer system for Serology. Consumables will include the ELISA kits for the different diseases, secondary antibodies, buffers, micropippets and tips and others
2 For Immunohistochemistry : Automatic microtome and tissue processing machine, embedding machine, slide drier and others. Consumables will include immunoperoxidase kits, tissue processing chemicals, slide etc. 3 Complete PCR Unit with electrophoresis facilities and special centrifuges. 4. Fridges and Freezers (-20 and -85 0C). 5 Electric generators. 6 Photomicroscopes.  7  Special training in PCR, ELISA and Immunohistochemistry will be provided at the Poultry Research Station and Dept of Vet Pathology at  Athens , Georgia, USA. Our collaborators will also help us in selection and purchase of equipment and supplies. 8. As a national survey this project will involve extensive travels nationwide.
Duration of the project is three years. It will deliver robust economic empowerment and skill acquisition
Please note that all the equipment and consumables will be available at all the eight collaborating Centers that will be handling samples from their zones
Significance of the Project:  This project will provide vital information needed for improving egg productivity in chicken layer farms. It will bring the cost of eggs down to the reach of most Nigerians.
Projected Cost: The projected cost of this national project is 550 million Naira
Professor J O A Okoye DVM, MPhil, PhD, FCVSN.
Group Leader