The practice of keeping chickens for home consumption and commercial use has become very common in different areas of the world today. It is quite easy to understand how one can successfully grow them until they are ready for eating or for egg production. For many people, apart from its food and commercial benefits, there is just an interest to have them around the compound, feeding and growing together. Whatever the reason why one may want to keep chickens, that person needs to be informed and prepared for the dangers or disadvantages of keeping them especially in very large numbers. The main issue with keeping chickens is the vulnerability of chickens to diseases and the challenges associated with the prevention of poultry diseases. There are a good number of common chicken diseases and while not all of them are life threatening a good number of these diseases could wipe out an entire poultry farm if not identified and contained timely. Knowing these diseases, their preventions and related poultry treatment or cure is very important for people who are interested in keeping chickens especially if they are going to be more than a few. You may have to start by getting a chicken medicine chart.
Most of the diseases that plague chickens are highly contagious and poultry treatment has to be administered quickly. This makes it very difficult to contain some of them once there is a breakout amongst the chickens. As you will notice, some of these diseases are not controllable or reversible once they infect chickens. Here are some of the most common diseases that attack chickens and recommendation on how you can deal with them.
This is one of the most common chicken diseases and though treatable, it is important to act as fast as possible when some amongst a group of them are infected. But first, you must be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of this disease in chickens. It is also interesting to note that this particular disease is one of those which can go unnoticed for a few days until you start seeing symptoms which will imply that the disease has already done too much damage. People who keep a large number of chickens have to be particularly careful about their response before and even after administering poultry treatment. You must take up the habit of inspecting the chickens from time to time in order to detect this particular disease early enough to deal with it on time.
One of the very first signs of diarrhea in chickens is their reduction in eating due to a drop in appetite. Immediately you start noticing a drop in the feeding or drinking of water, know it is time to check your chickens for this disease and begin administering poultry treatment for diarrhea. The next sign of the infection is watery dropping which would often be discolored and mixed with blood. The feathers of their vent then becomes caked together or soiled. You will also notice depression in the chickens as those that are infected will often isolate themselves from the others even during times of feeding.
If you have been keeping chickens for some time, you will know that one of the best times to watch them is when they are feeding. You can look at their response or activeness as well as pay attention to their physical appearance. Those that are reluctant to eat or move about should be isolated until you are sure that they are not infected or after they are cured. The propensity for chickens to isolate themselves when kept with others could be the sign of another disease so you want to look for other signs of diarrhea before coming to a conclusion or administering medication.
When observing chickens for signs of diarrhea, you can tell whether or not some are infected by watching their growth rate. Hybrids especially grow very fast. Most often, those who keep them buy them when they are just a day old and grow them at the same pace. If they are fed with recommended food they will grow speedily. This should work to your advantage because then you are easily able to tell which of them have issues with growth, which will be a sign of diarrhea infection.
Since prevention is better than cure (especially with chickens as they are very fragile), it is far better to know the causes of this disease and aim towards preventing it rather than trying to cure chickens when they are infected. Diarrhea could be caused by bacteria or viruses, parasites or even fungi. For bacteria causing diarrhea, there is salmonella, pasteurella or E.Coli.
Medication for this disease include the use of antibiotic drugs that should be diluted in water and administered to the chickens for about three to five days. In order to avoid skipping doses, be sure to start and complete the medication with a chicken medicine chart. Electrolytes, minerals and vitamins can also be added to the water in which their diarrhea drugs are administered to act as a stress relief agent.
New Castle Disease
This is one of the most common chicken diseases and of course a serious source of worry for most poultry farm owners. The New Castle disease is amongst the most dangerous viruses to attack chickens. It is known to cause respiratory and nervous disorder in birds. Therefore they can be gotten if the chickens you are keeping have any form of direct or indirect contact with contaminated birds. If it goes unnoticed for even a few days there could be very great loses registered. It is one of those diseases that have caused great losses to local and industrial poultry farmers. There is no cure or poultry treatment for this particular disease so the best chance for people who keep chickens as far as this disease is concerned is to simply take serious measures to keep the disease away. Prevention is therefore your only chance of dealing with the disease. This disease also spreads very rapidly so the chickens that are infected have to immediately be taken out of the group and killed. One can know when this disease attacks chickens by looking for some signs of the sickness. These include nervousness, swollen eyes, difficulty in breathing, sneezing, and depression. Birds that should lay will also stop laying eggs as a symptom of this disease. Infected birds will experience paralysis in their legs and wings while their necks will be twisted.
The disease has to be prevented by properly managing the poultry, keeping it clean and carrying out timely vaccinations and disease control methods. You will do well to consult a veterinarian for advice on proper management and disease control if you have not done that already. Aside from that, preventive methods will involve taking the following measures.
- Vaccinate all chickens against this disease before you ever see any signs or symptoms of the disease.
- If you live in an area where chicken keeping is a very common practice, you have to be specially careful about visiting other farms. Wash clothes and shoes after visiting neighboring farms and try to encourage your neighbors who keep chickens to vaccinate their chickens as well.
- Develop a frequent practice of thoroughly cleaning the houses of your chickens to reduce the chances of them getting infected with the disease. Their feeders and drinkers should be cleaned as frequently as possible and also disinfected. Lastly, avoid leaving dead or sick chickens to stay in the farm for more than a few minutes.
This is very common amongst local chicken keepers because the disease is easy for chickens to get. It is one of those common chicken diseases that are a result of a fungal infection from Candida albicans. You can know that your chicken is infected with this disease when you start noticing a white substance oozing from their crop area. Their feathers are also going to look ruffled with a crusty vent area and lethargic appearance.
Since it is a fungal disease, the primary means through which the disease is contacted is by eating molded feed or drinking water and scratching on surfaces that have been contaminated.
This disease has no available vaccine, so it can either be prevented or infected chickens will have to go through treatment which is the administration of anti-fungal medications. As always, medication for treatment will be more effective when farm owners use a chicken medicine chart while administering drugs recommended by a veterinarian.
Preventing the disease is mainly a matter of properly considering what your chickens eat, drink and where they stay as these are the main factors that determine whether or not they get the disease. Sometimes, some of these diseases are difficult to prevent but if one is diligent in taking care of the chickens and their house, it will be easier to prevent such diseases.
You can know that your chickens are infected with the chicken pox when they begin to develop white spots on their skin often accompanied by scabby sores that appear on their comb. Other symptoms include white ulcers that can be seen in the trachea and mouth. For chickens that had been producing eggs, laying may stop as a signal of the chicken pox disease. It is very possible that your birds will survive this illness but some curative measure will have to be taken. For example, you can keep them in a dry and warm area and feed them with soft food as they recover. As always, it is best to prevent this disease and this can be done by using a vaccine. So you have to see your veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms. The disease can be transferred from one bird to another or by mosquitoes that carry the virus.
Botulism is the disease that causes paralysis in chickens. The chickens first begin to have tremors that could aggravate until the chicken finally becomes totally paralyzed in body and finds difficulties breathing. The feathers of chickens affected with this disease are usually tender and easy to pull out. All these could happen within a few hours of a chicken getting infected with the disease. Birds normally succumb to this sickness quickly because of their susceptibility to the toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum from dead and decaying animals. This disease is also known as Limberneck and it could sporadically affect chickens that are exposed to carcass or other decaying things.
Within twelve to about forty eight hours from the time when the toxin is ingested, you can start seeing symptoms of the disease. From this time, you will notice that affected birds are reluctant to move as the paralysis must have already set in. There is also going to be some level of weakness and drowsiness accompanying the reluctance of the birds to move about. As the paralysis overcomes them, their heads finally drop to the ground along with their wings which are by this time too weak to hold up. Their feathers too may be easily plucked before or after the chicken lapses into a coma and dies.
It is important to note that Clostridium botulinum could live in carcasses for long and the disease could be picked up by other birds or organisms that come in contact with the carcass of dead birds. Control or preventive measures include the following;
Feeding chickens from well designed feeders instead of letting them feed from the ground
Making sure there is always a fresh supply of water and feed
Keeping them from contaminated or stagnant water
Removing dead birds daily, especially when the disease strikes
It is possible for birds that live after 48 hours of being infected to actually recover from the disease and live. Your best chance however will be to isolate infected birds and give them vitamins and antibiotics as a supportive therapy following a chicken medicine chart.
Upper Respiratory Disease
It is a respiratory disease that could be caused by a number of factors as well as pathogens. The onset signs of this disease are sneezing, runny nose and foamy eyes. You can hear a somewhat faint snoring sound when they breathe and they will do this with an open mouth.
There may also be swellings around the eyes of infected birds and if attention or medical care is not given on time, the disease will lead to massive loss of appetite and eventual death. It is important to seek help or advice from your vet when you begin noticing some of these signs. Sometimes, a disease could be dormant in birds until some factors inducing stress come up. Some of the things that could cause stress will include; extreme temperatures, transportation under stressful circumstances or introduction of new stock to the farm. There are a number of pathogens that can cause this disease but one will need to carry out a blood test to know which of these pathogens is the cause of the disease so that it can be properly treated.
The best preventive measure to employ against this disease is avoiding anything that could stress the birds up or make them vulnerable to the disease. Maintain comfortable stocking of birds, avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures. Also take vaccination of your chickens very seriously.
In order to treat this disease, one must understand that most of the pathogens that cause this disease are viruses which first attack the birds and then make them vulnerable to other bacteria like pasteurella and E.Coli which then cause other infections. These are the infections that can be treated with antibiotics. This implies that poultry owners should not mainly focus on treating the disease when the chickens pick it up, but on preventing it since the virus itself only becomes a problem when it makes the chicken vulnerable to common bacterial infections.
Drop in Egg Quality or Production
Not many people who keep chickens do so for the production of eggs. But for those who deal in sales of eggs from their farms, this may be a major issue of concern. It is easy to notice when your birds begin to face this problem. You will realize an abnormality in the shape and content of some of the eggs they produce. Some eggs may not have shells when the chickens lay them. All these are signals that you have to consider poultry treatment for this particular disease. If you keep stock of egg production, you will stand a better chance noticing the problem as the number of eggs produced will drop considerably. For those who sell the eggs produced from their farm, you can know there is a problem when your customers begin to complain of the quality of eggs they buy from you.
There are a number of organisms that cause this problem, including bacteria infections or viruses like influenza and New Castle disease, parasites and mycoplasma. As far as treatment for this disease is concerned, you may have a recommendation from veterinarian to administer antibiotics though this would only deal with the secondary bacterial infection. Consequently, it will be necessary to include some vitamins and minerals to the water or feed that the chickens take to help curb the disease.
This is a disease caused by six different types or species of elmeria which specifically attack chickens. These species include E tenella, E acervunila, E mitis, E maxima, E necatrix and E brunetti. Knowing which specific specie causes this disease may not be important to find out because a host of them often work together to effectively infect their victim. One thing which will help anyone properly treat this disease is understanding the life cycle of its causative bacteria. The first stage of its life cycle is the formation of an egg like unsporulated oocyst which has not developed yet. They are difficult to destroy because of their ability to preserve themselves from destructive agents by forming a thick wall around them. When chickens eat a sporulated ocyst, it is broken down by chemicals in the wall of the chicken’s gut, thus releasing the infective sporocyst which is the next form taken by the bacteria. Changes take place from stage to stage as the bacteria takes the form in which it can effectively infect and destroy its host.
Unlike other common chicken diseases there is a good side of chickens picking up this bacteria. If a chicken does not pick up or eat a good number of oocysts, it could conquer the bacteria and instead become immune to it. However, if it eats a large amount of it then the bacteria will replicate to an enormous amount and totally overcome the chicken’s system, making it sick.
Considering all the diseases mentioned above, you will agree that it is best to consider prevention of poultry diseases than trying to cure them when they are infected. Some of these diseases are very contagious and could go unnoticed till an entire farm is contaminated. Infected chickens can also die in a matter or hours or a few days in some cases. Prevention of poultry diseases is therefore something that every farmer ought to look into and take as their primary point of concern. There are certain basic measures that should be applied for prevention of poultry diseases. They include,
Making sure that the farm house or where the chickens stay is properly ventilated. This could effectively minimize the rate of bacteria infection.
Keeping the farm house clean at all times. There are several ways to keep the chicken house always clean and dry. Many people use saw dust. chickens are sensitive to cold and wet places. Saw dust helps their house to remain warm and dry at all times.
Clean their feeders and drinkers on a daily basis. If this is not done, their feeders and drinkers could become the means through which diseases spread. Remember they drink and eat together. This implies that a single infected chicken can spread the disease very fast if they live in an unclean environment or eat and drink from dirty vessels. This is an important tip for the prevention of poultry diseases.