Six diseases that can sink your coop

Sibius Ouma feeding his chichen from the feeders inside the big poultry house, karachwony North ward, Homabay.

To be successful in chicken farming, you must be prepared to confront rapidly changing management and disease threats. Today, I will discuss the top six top poultry diseases to watchout for:

  1. Navel ill

It is also called yolk sac inflammation, and is associated with such bacteria as E. coli, salmonella and staphylococcus. Navell ill occurs in the first weeks of life where there are gaps in environment management, such as fluctuating room temperatures, chilling floor, contaminated water, and feed. Offending bacteria can also come from dirty hatcheries, infected breeders, chicks hatched from dirty and contaminated eggs. To keep disease at bay, ensure the brooding conditions are right for the juvenile chicks in the first seven days of placement. Sourcing your chicks from disease-free parents also helps.

  1. E. coli bacterial infection

This disease can affect several organs. In the joints it causes lameness, in the air sacs it causes pneumonia and in the ovary it results into egg peritonitis. E. coli infections are exacerbated by poor ventilation, low or chilling temperature, dirty water, obnoxious gases, and viral infections.

  1. Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is a major economic disease impacting on the poultry industry globally. It is caused by a protozoal organism scientifically christened Eimeria spp. This organism is known to invade the intestinal linings of poultry following direct ingestion from contaminated litter, leading to diarrhoea and red feacal dropping. In severe cases, the disease cause excessive bleeding, malabsorption, diarrhoea and ultimately reduced growth rate. Ensure your litter in the flock unit is always dry and friable all the time. Repair any water leaks and ensure the units are properly ventilated all the time. Treat diarrhoeal disease immediately they are noticed. Dry litter will reduce extreme multiplication of the oocysts in the litter.  Stick to the correct stocking density for the type of bird and system. There are plenty of anticoccidial products that can be used to treat affected flocks. Consult your veterinarian for right choice of drugs for your flocks.

  1. Chronic respiratory disease (CRD)

This is a nonspecific upper respiratory infection with little improvement even after antibiotic treatments for a prolonged period. It is complication of an E. coli infection with mycoplasma agents. These conditions are made worse by chilling of birds during the early stages of growth, high stocking density, poor ventilations, high build up of poultry dust and ammonia, use of contaminated water and extreme abnormal stress. These stress factors can be prevented by good rearing and welfare practices.

  1. Gumboro

Gumboro is also known as infectious bursal disease. It is a highly contagious viral disease that affects only young chicks at the age of three to eight weeks. If your flocks are infected especially if they are not vaccinated, there will be rapid drop in feed and water consumption. The birds will discharge mucoid or slimy diarrhoea with soiled vent feathers, most appear as white droppings. The feathers will appear ruffled, and the chicks become listless (lethargic or tired) walking with unsteady gait. In less severe cases, the mortality may reach 10 per cent and birds recover without any treatment. The only prevention treatment is a good biosecurity and vaccination of every bird either at the hatchery and one or two boosters at the farm.

  1. Newcastle disease

This is a disease of all ages of birds and can affect up to 200 species of birds. Clinically the affected birds will discharge greenish diarrhoea, may show nervous signs like star gazing and twisted necks, present difficulty in breathing and will completely go off-feed and water resulting into typical greenish dropping. In non-vaccinated flocks, farmers can lose up to 100 per cent of the birds. There is no known treatment for this disease so ensure the flocks are vaccinated as per the local disease challenges of the area.

[The writer is Head vet at Kenchic [email protected]]

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