Chickens constantly getting sick and dying could be a terrible nightmare to a farmer. I have had my own dark experience of unceasing death on my poultry farmer some decades ago, and I must confess the pains never fades. I have to take a break from poultry farming to find answers to my chicken problems, which I later found and I am going to share them in this post.
Chickens can get sick and die due to diseases, but when it becomes a trend with every batch, it becomes alarming and calls for immediate intervention.
From my experience over the years, the reasons why your chickens are getting sick and dying may stem from
Fortunately, most of these conditions can be treated or managed.
Next, we are going to look at the effects of these conditions on the health and lives of our chickens and how they could be managed and be treated.
At this junction, I Implore you to read between lines because I will be dropping some secrets on how to prevent and reduce death among your flocks for maximum profitability.
Providing a good housing condition for your chickens is the first line of action to ensuring a successful production. A good chicken house should be well ventilated. Poor ventilation will expose your chickens to diseases that could make them fall sick especially with respiratory diseases (cough and catarrh).
In building your chicken pen or chicken house, ensure the following points:
And again, high stocking density will invariably lead to overcrowding causing vices like feather pecking, cannibalism, fighting, and heat stress which is one of the causes of sudden death in chickens, especially in broilers.
You can construct a perch/roost for your free rang chickens and layers to keep them fit and also a place for them to roost at nightfall. It also keeps them away from their droppings containing germs and ammonia which can make them chicken sick.
Poor food; food not mixed in the correct proportions, moldy food; dirty and impure water could make your chickens fall sick and die in extreme cases. While in some cases would cause stunted growth and poor egg production in broilers and layers respectively.
And again, moldy food and food that has come in contact with droppings and dirt are two of the greatest causes of disease. You should buy or make feeding troughs and drinkers that will prevent the feet of your birds from getting into them.
A balanced diet helps the birds to resist disease.
In addition, your Food utensils should be cleaned and disinfected frequently, and drinking water changed and the waterline/container flushed or cleaned periodically or daily.
The feed should be stored in a cool dry place. Store your feed for a period of time, ideally for less than two months from the date of the feed being manufactured. High temperature encourages mold growth and oxidative rancidity.
One of the secrets to ensuring I keep my broiler mortality below 4% is proper sanitation and cleanliness. I will say it and I will continue to say it, even though it sounds cliché, 'Prevention is better than cure'
Chickens love to perch
In fact, I hate curing diseases. I prefer to ache my back from cleaning my pen every day than to pass through that emotional stress and fear of having to treat a sick bird.
Experimentally, clean and change the litter of your pen every day if you can, or let say, every three days from week 2 to week 8, and come tell me the difference while every other thing being equal, I bet you, you shall have zero or below 4 % mortality.
To achieve maximum result, ensure you do the followings;
Also read: Fowlpox symptoms, treatment, and prevention
The main external parasites that are problematic for poultry are mites and lice. Mite parasites feed on the blood of chickens and can cause anaemia and possible death, while lice feed on dander and feathers. The red mite causes the most problems in poultry.
In addition, intestinal worms like roundworms, Cecal worms, tapeworm, etc are the major internal parasites that affect poultry birds follow by protozoa like coccidia which causes diarrhea and blood loss. (Coccidiosis)
Clinical signs of a parasite infestation include unthriftiness, poor growth and feed conversion, decreased egg production, and in severe cases, death. Also, parasites can make a flock more susceptible to diseases or worsen a current disease condition.
You can get rid of parasites in chicken by giving proper medication like dewormer, sun-bath, spraying with antibiotic ointment
For treatment visit a Vet or a drug store. For me, I mainly use Ivermectin (for internal parasites )or Kepromec (for both internal and external parasites)
Your chickens can get infested by other flocks ( Horizontal infestation) or from its parent (vertical infestation). It is also possible your chickens can get infested by external animal-like rodents, mosquitoes, local chickens, etc. Farm visitors are another source of infection on your farm. They might be carriers of pathogens that may cause your chickens to fall sick.
Your biosecurity game should be top-notch. Farm visitors should change into farm clothe and make use of foot-bath before entering your pen.
All new or ‘strange’ birds should be isolated for about fourteen days before they are put among the others. During this period of isolation, the new birds should be carefully watched for any signs of illness or poor condition; if such signs appear, the birds should be removed and kill immediately.
One sick fowl may infect another. Then the disease will spread, and a whole season’s or year’s work may be wasted. You should vaccinate (use a standard vaccination schedule) your birds against major diseases like Newcastle Disease, Gumboro, Fowlpox, and typhoid depending on the diseases that are prevalent in your area.
Weakness inherited from parent chicks hatched from eggs of poor quality; inbreeding or mating of closely related individuals may result in abnormalities or disease resistance.
Do your background check before you secure any chick from any hatchery. Make sure the hatchery has a good reputation for good quality chicks.
According to experts, Chicks with hatchery problems will get sick and may die within the first three days of life. Any health problem after that three days will be a result of poor management.
In conclusion, generally, to prevent your chickens from getting sick and dying, you should provide your chickens with good feed, clean water, proper medication at the right time, clean and neat housing, and most importantly be available for your birds to monitor their behavior daily. Perpetual absence is not good for the poultry business.
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