Cover Image
close this bookBetter Farming Series 13 - Keeping Chickens (FAO - INADES, 1977, 48 p.)
close this folderHow to protect poultry against disease
View the documentPreventing poultry from getting ill
View the documentVaccination
View the documentMain diseases of poultry

Preventing poultry from getting ill

64. Buy at the animal husbandry centres day- old chicks or three- month- old pullets

That way you get poultry of a good breed that resist heat, dampness and diseases.

These birds are in good health and have usually been vaccinated.

65. Pay attention to cleanliness

The poultry house, and the feeding and drinking troughs must always be very clean.

You must clean them out often.

66. Do not put too many birds together

If you put too many birds together, they may wound or even kill each other.

The stronger ones peck the weaker.

The grass in the run is soon eaten up by the birds, and cannot grow again.

Diseases are passed more easily from one bird to another.

67. You must not put hens together with ducks, guinea fowls, turkeys.

The diseases of ducks, guinea fowls and turkeys can be given to the hens.

For 50 laying hens, you need an area of about 25 x 20 metres.

68. Take any sick birds out of the run

You must not eat sick poultry.

You must kill them and burn them so that the microbes are not left in the ground to be passed on to the other birds.

It is also better to take out of the run hens that are too thin and do not grow any more.

They do not resist diseases well and can give them to the poultry in good health.

69. Ask the animal husbandry service for advice

When a bird is sick or dead, take it to the animal husbandry service, or to the nearest veterinary assistant. Then you must follow his advice, so that the disease is not passed on to all the poultry in the village.

Often you see all the poultry of a village killed by the same disease. This must be avoided.

70. Get all poultry vaccinated

All poultry bought at animal husbandry centres that have not already been vaccinated, for instance day- old chicks, must be vaccinated.


71. All poultry must be vaccinated when they are very young, before they have begun to lay eggs.

Young birds that have not been vaccinated do not resist diseases, and die.

If you have to vaccinate a hen that is laying, it will not lay any more eggs. Vaccination is generally used against fowl pox, cholera and Newcastle disease.

There are two chief ways of vaccinating:

· mixing the vaccine with the drinking water;
· by making injections.

The animal husbandry service teaches farmers how and when to give injections. Ask the animal husbandry service for clear instructions and vaccine.

Main diseases of poultry

There are many poultry diseases. Some of them are difficult to recognize. We shall deal only with the main diseases.

72. Bone disease

The birds walk with difficulty; they limp. The leg bones are badly formed.

This disease is chiefly caused by lack of vitamins and mineral salts. So these birds must be given food that contains more vitamins and mineral salts, such as vegetables and crushed bones and shells.

73. Pullorum disease

The chicks are listless, walk with difficulty. They have a very big belly and drag their wings. Their excrement is liquid and turns white. Many of the birds die at the age of 8 days.

The disease is transmitted by the hens' eggs. A hen that has had pullorum, even if it has been cured, always produces infected eggs. All its chicks will be diseased.

Such hens can be kept to eat or to sell the eggs, but should not be kept in order to have chicks. To prevent poultry from catching this disease, do not buy chicks from unknown sources.

The animal husbandry service that sells chicks gives farmers a certificate saying that the chicks are free from this disease.

74. Fowl pest (Newcastle disease)

Fowl pest is a very common disease and very dangerous.

It kills very quickly a large number of poultry. The birds breathe very heavily and very badly. They digest their food badly.

When they have this disease, they cannot be treated: there is no medicine.

But you can prevent the birds from getting this disease.

You must not mix chickens of local breeds with the chickens bought from the animal husbandry service. All poultry must be vaccinated.

75. Coccidiosis

Parasites living in the digestive system are the cause of this disease.

Blood is seen in the excrement of chicks between 10 days and 3 months old.

If the chick is not dead in 30 days, it will always remain thin and will be very late in laying.

To cure diseased poultry, you can mix in the water coccidiostats that stop the disease.

But to prevent poultry from catching this disease, you must:

· not put too many birds together;
· be very careful about the cleanliness of drinking troughs and poultry houses;
· put coccidiostats in the drinking water.

There is no vaccine against coccidiosis.

The coccidiostats are provided by the animal husbandry service.

76. Pecking

The birds peck each other. They pull out feathers and make the skin bleed. Then the birds become more and more vicious.

If there are too many poultry in a run, if their house is not shaded from light, if the drinking and feeding troughs are not big enough, the birds are quick to fight, and may even kill one another.

You should:

· take out of the run all the wounded birds and those which are most vicious;
· treat the wounds with a bad- smelling medicament;
· sometimes cut off the tip of the beak.

You can also hang bundles of vegetables or green grass from the roof of the poultry house.

Then in reaching for this food the poultry get tired and become less vicious.

77. There are many other diseases such as fowl pox, spirochetosis and cholera.

There are vaccines and drugs against several of these diseases.

Ask your animal husbandry service for advice.