What causes Diseases in Poultry and How can they be prevented?

The profit from poultry farming is greatly dependent on the incidence of diseases in the flock. The onset of diseases not only causes mortality but also morbidity.

Although significant progress has been made in the control of diseases of baby chicks and growing birds mortality, especially of the laying flock, still remains as one of the great challenges to the poultry breeder.

Classification of Diseases in Poultry

Poultry diseases may be classified either as infectious or non- infectious. Non-infectious diseases are caused by faulty management. Faulty feed formulation and inadequate diet may be responsible for nutritionally deficient diseases.

Infectious diseases are classified according to the type of disease-causing organism described below

  • Parasitic: External parasites: lice, mites, tides, and fleas.
  • Internal parasites: Roundworms, tapeworms, and hexamitiasis.
  • Protozoan: Coccidiosis in chicken, black-head in turkeys, and leucocytozoonosis.
  • Bacterial: Pullorum,typhoid,paratyphoid,fowlcholera,Arizona infection in turkeys etc.
  • Viral: Ranikhet disease, fowl-pox, infectious bronchitis, infectious laryngotracheitis, infectious bursitis, avian encephalomyelitis, Marek’s disease, leukosis, chronic respiratory diseases, duck virus enteritis, hepatitis, etc.
  • Fungal : Aspergillosis, Moniliasis

In commercial poultry production treatment of individual birds is not possible. Hence the golden rule “Prevention is better than cure” more appropriately applies to poultry than any other livestock species. As the poultry industry is growing very fast, the hazards of the diseases are obviously great.

Read more on Poultry Management Guide

Efficient diagnostic methods are available for some of the common killer diseases like Ranikhet, and also the prevention and available control measures are very successful. With the advancement of science and intensification of the poultry production program, several new diseases have emerged and several more are likely to emerge in the future whatever may be the inciting or precipitating causes.

It is important that they are diagnosed and controlled within a minimum spread in the country and minimum loss to the economy.

How can Diseases in Poultry be prevented?

The adoption of the following practices will help in minimizing loss from diseases.

  • Poultry houses should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before the arrival of chicks. Also start with clean and disinfected equipment such as feeders, waters, and hovers.
  • Chicks should be procured from a reliable breeder and diseases- free flock.
  • The all-in-and-all-out system should be preferred. Otherwise, birds of different age groups should be reared separately.
  • Optimum floor space should be provided depending upon the age of birds, the season of the year, and agro-climatic conditions. Overcrowding should be avoided by all means.
  • The litter should be kept dry and the houses should be well ventilated.
  • The ration should be well balanced with respect to various ingredients and available ad-lib. Plenty of fresh and clean water should be provided. The waterers and feeders must be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • All the poultry, houses should be thoroughly checked in the morning and evening to see the condition of the birds. Any abnormal behavior of the birds will signify the onset of disease. Prompt attention should be paid to diagnose the cause and appropriate measures taken. Dead birds could be removed and disposed of immediately.
  • The birds should be vaccinated against Ranikhet disease and fowl- pox. Vaccines from reliable and authorized sources oily should be used. Vaccines are also available for several other diseases. But whether to use all of them or not, will depend on the incidence of diseases on the farm and its surroundings. It may be worthwhile to mention here that vaccination is stress and more the number of vaccines greater the stress. A veterinarian may be consulted for diagnosis and control of diseases.
  • Breeders should be routinely tested against salmonellosis and all the reactors should be destroyed and not used for breeding.
  • Medicines are expensive. So all the treatments have to be done with care and respect. The manufacturer’s recommendations should be followed strictly. It is better not to use antibiotics than to use them incorrectly.

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