It’s difficult to have to face the reality that sometimes our flocks begin dying, and we could have done something about it. It can be traumatic, painful and a huge loss – both financially and professionally. We will discuss four diseases you should be aware of in poultry farming. Understanding them will help you protect your flock, and prevent communicable diseases from spreading. Let’s face it, prevention is better than a cure.

Whether it’s business or pleasure, you are responsible for your chickens, and part of that responsibility is being aware of the diseases and illnesses associated with poultry farming. Be sure to keep an eye out for the following four diseases. 

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Disease 1: Fowl Pox

Fowl Pox is a common viral infection and is an airborne virus. It affects the areas of the bird that don’t have feathers, making it easy to see white spots and blisters on the skin, eyes, face, comb, and wattles. One of the other symptoms is that laying chickens will stop laying when they have contracted Fowl Fox. The disease is not seasonal, and can infect your flock at any time of the year. 

What Can you do?

  •  Vaccinate your chicks when they are still young; or make sure the hatchery where you got your chicks vaccinated them.
  • As it is a highly contagious and infectious virus, as soon as you see any symptoms make sure to separate the healthy and infected chickens by a good distance (remember it is an airborne disease, and you don’t want it to be carried from your sick birds to the rest of the healthy flock). 
  • If your flock is already infected, move the sick birds to a warm dry place and feed them soft foods. 

Disease 2: New Castle Disease

New Castle Disease is one of the most infectious poultry diseases all around the world. It’s fatal and highly contagious. This disease has a high death rate, which is all the more reason you should make sure such a disease doesn’t come to your flock.

How will you know your chicken have New castle

  • Watery diarrhea that is greenish in colour
  • A decrease in egg-laying
  • Very thin-shelled eggs
  • Nasal Discharge
  •  Coughing and Sneezing
  • Paralysis
  • Swelling around the eyes and the neck
  • Sudden death

What Can you do?

  • Vaccination is very important. Vaccines for New Castle Disease can be administered every six weeks. 
  • Be careful when buying new chickens, make sure they are vaccinated or vaccine them first. You can also put the new chicken in a separate cage for a few days before mixing them with your own chicken, just to be sure that they are free from the virus. 

Disease 3: Infectious Bronchitis

Infectious Bronchitis is another very contagious poultry disease. This a respiratory disease thus you will have symptoms like coughing, sneezing and watery nasal discharge among chickens, and can lead to difficulty breathing. Infectious Bronchitis is an airborne disease, and while it can infect chickens of all ages, unfortunately, it affects young chickens most as they cannot fight the infection. This means many chickens under three months if infected, will die. Infectious Bronchitis also affects the production of eggs. 

What Can you do

  • Always remember to vaccinate your chickens.
  • When affected, put them in a warm and dry place so that they can regain their health;
  • Avoid overcrowding in your coops. 

Disease 4: Mareks Disease /Fowl Paralysis

Fowl Paralysis is the cancer of the nervous system. This is not something any poultry farmer wants to come face to face with, as it will not just paralyze your chickens, it has the potential to paralyze your business as well. The disease affects mostly younger chicks but, remain vigilant with the older chickens too – just because it mostly affects younger chickens, does not mean the older chickens are immune. This disease tends to be acute, which would explain why it seems that you have healthy chickens the one day, and dead chickens the next. Despite this disease generally being acute, the chickens do end up dying rapidly once infected. 

Sadly, some people are forced to put down their chickens when they contract this disease, because it is believed that once a chicken gets this disease and survives from it, the chicken is then a carrier of the disease for the rest of its life.

Things you should watch out

  • Loss of body weight: the chick becomes too light too quickly.
  • Labored breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Finally, weak legs, neck and wings. This is the paralysis part of the disease, and it causes suffering until the end. 

What can you do:

  • Vaccination always works, so make sure to vaccinate your chicks when they are still one day old, it will save you so much trouble. If you get chicks from a supplier get proof that they vaccinated the chicks/chickens.

By now we all know we can’t ignore vaccinations, it’s vital and it should be the first step anyone takes and understands before they decide to go into chicken farming for business purposes or personal use.

If you are into chicken farming, always have a close look at your chickens to see if there are strange symptoms or something. Also, make sure their water is changed every day.

Can you think of any other diseases you should be aware of in poultry farming?

And if you want some other ways to increase the happiness of your flock, read this article.