Poultry Diseases


Disease can be defined as any change or impairment of normal body function that affects the chickens’ ability to survive, grow or reproduce. An understanding of the cause of a disease and its method of spread (transmission) will assist in controlling it. Knowledge of the clinical signs of a disease and the characteristics of lesions found at Post-mortem will help in its diagnosis and instituting preventative measures.

Rules of Disease prevention;
  • Give access to the right feed and clean water, particularly for small chicks;
  • Build shelters against wind and rain
  • Clean houses regularly and disinfect the floor and walls
  • Provide dry litter regularly where applicable
  • Do not put too many birds together
  • Different species of poultry for example hens, turkeys, pigeons, ducks and guinea fowls should be kept separate
  • Separate chicks from adult birds except from the mother hen
  • Vaccinate chicks against the most important diseases and re-vaccinate where necessary
  • Isolate and treat sick birds – if medication is not available then kill the sick birds
  • Burn or bury killed birds.
Characteristics of Healthy birds;
  • Alert and on guard
  • Bright eyes and comb
  • Walk, run, stand and scratch
  • Continuously Eat and drink
  • Normally Lay eggs
  • Normally Smooth and neat feathers
  • Soft compact droppings Breathe quietly
Characteristics of Unhealthy birds;
  • Unhealthy birds/sick birds
  • Tired and lifeless
  • Dull eyes and comb
  • Sit or lie down
  • Eat and drink less
  • Lay less or stop laying eggs
  • Ruffled and loose feathers
  • Wet droppings with blood or worms, diarrhea
  • Cough, sneeze and breathe noisily.
Costs associated with Disease Control;
  • Mortality
  • Morbidity
  • Reduced productivity- weight gain/egg production
  • Downgrading at processing
  • Treatment
  • Vaccination
  • Surveillance and monitoring
  • Loss of market
  • Public health control
  • Welfare perceptions




NEVER vaccinate sick chicken

Consult your veterinary/livestock stafff or detailed vaccination programs in your area.

Vices in Chicken;

Vices are bad behavior in chickens brought about by stress due to poor management.

Types of Vices;

Egg eating:This is caused by poor nutrition, this can be due to poor quality feeds or under feeding the chickens based on their requirement. Other causes include:

  • Laying nests are not dark enough,
  • Inadequate nesting material
  • Broken eggs due to pilling up

This occurs when one bird pecks at the skin of another and devours its flesh. Cannibalism can result in significant mortality within the flock, and cause a decrease in production due to stress.

Vent pecking:

This can be influenced by poor nutrition, laying nest not dark enough during oviposition,and overcrowding.

Toe Pecking:

Caused by too much bright light

Feather pecking :

This is chickens pulling out each other feathers due to infestation of external parasites

Vices can be prevented using good management. Debeaking is one of the main ways of managing vices.