Although kienyenji chicken farming is a lucrative venture to try, you should know there are challenges to face. One of these challenges is poultry diseases. It’s extremely important to know all the diseases you might encounter as a chicken farmer. Second, you should familiarize yourself with all the vaccinations your chickens need to survive the disease bouts. Keep in mind that without proper disease management and control tactics, your chickens could die. Even if some of your birds survive, their eggs and meat production levels could decrease.

What triggers chicken diseases?

The main cause is microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoans. The secondary causes are normal pests that hide in the chicken fur and the internal parasites that live in the intestines. Other than micro-organisms and parasites, diseases could result from other factors: poor flock management, nutrition, husbandry and environmental elements.

Viral poultry diseases

1)    Newcastle Disease – NCD is a stubborn viral chicken disease and the virus that causes it can survive in a dead carrier or its secretions for a whole year. A disease with a high mortality rate, Newcastle Disease could kill 30 to 40 percent of your chicken flock. The symptoms to expect are:

  • Poor appetite
  • Poor digestion
  • Heavy breathing
  • Greenish droppings
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Paralysis and nervous breakdown.
  • Swelling of the head
  • twisting of the head and neck

It is important to notice the early signs; otherwise, you could lose your birds. NCD is better prevented than cured, and it’s very contagious. There is a vaccination that can be administered to all birds and chicks.

2)    Avian Influenza or AI – This disease is almost similar to NCD. Although it affects waterfowls and ducks the most, Avian Influenza can ail chickens too. AI is not only highly contagious, but also extremely deadly. If your chickens have this viral disease, you will notice their bluish, swollen combs and wattles. Good hygiene and regular vaccination are a must if you want to prevent AI. If drinking water or food is contaminated, AI will spread incredibly fast and cause more deaths. It has no complete cure, just like the NCD. If you suspect it, disinfect and clean your chicken house right away. Eliminate sick and dead birds by burning them.

3)    Fowl Pox – This is another viral disease that is transmitted via contact. It affects chicks, mostly, and materializes as tiny lesions on their combs, face and wattles. Commonly seen during the dry seasons, Fowl Pox isn’t extremely deadly. It has no cure as well; and so, you should vaccinate your birds on time.

4)    Infectious Bursal Disease (IBD) – Also called the Gumboro Disease, IBD is a viral disease that attacks broods below six weeks of age. It commonly occurs if many chicks are placed in a cluttered, small housing. The first sign is usually diarrhea and it is noticeable after 4 to 6 weeks after the chicks hatch. Other signs include a swollen kidney with urates, swollen bursa of fabricious, dehydration, PM-Skeletal bleeding and sudden death. You can only vaccinate your chicks to protect them from this deadly virus.

5)    Marek’s Disease – This disease only attacks chickens that are sixteen weeks and older. It may paralyze the chickens’ leg/legs or wing/wings. Marek’s disease triggers retarded growth, low productivity and moderate deaths.

Besides the viral diseases, chickens could also suffer from a wide range of bacterial diseases. The most prevalent ones include fowl cholera, fowl typhoid, Pullorum Disease, Infectious coryza, chronic respiratory disease and Colibacillosis. Moreover, we noted earlier that poultry diseases may be triggered by internal parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms. The commonest fungal disease is Mycotoxicosis or fungal poisoning, and it occurs when birds eat contaminated feed.