As a poultry keeper, whether you keep ducks or chickens, and whether you keep them for livestock or just as pets, there's one thing you will always need to know about: whether your flock is healthy or not. It can be quite difficult to start finding this kind of information - many sources on the internet are very technical and hard to read, having been aimed at large farm range owners or people who are already very knowledgeable about keeping their poultry of choice, and with this in mind, we here at Pet Food Plus More have decided to put together this simple article to help you understand some of the more common health problems your flock may suffer from, and also some ways of how to prevent or treat these conditions.
Without further ado, let's begin by looking at Newcastle Disease. This disease has the ability to effects most types of aviary. It is a viral infection most often caught from wild birds, but can also be transferred from touch, meaning that it's possible for you to spread it throughout your flock if you are not cautious. The main symptoms to look out for are with breathing problems, a large amount of mucus build-up, murky looking eyes, a pause in egg laying, and in infrequent cases, paralyzation. Ducks are more at-risk from this disease, and in some rare cases may die, which can also be the same case for baby chicks. In most other cases, other birds will eventually recover with no need for medication. If you would want to prevent your flock from catching this disease, it can be prevented with a vaccine, which you may be able to get from your local vet.
Secondly, we shall consider Marek's disease. This condition, which can effect young chickens and, rarely turkeys (both usually below the age of 20 weeks) is a virus transmitted through shed skin and feathers. The disease can be quite brutal, as the bird's eyes will glaze over and turn gray, and the bird will begin to develop cancerous tumors. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for an infected bird - they must unfortunately be put down to prevent the infection from further spreading. Fortunately, there is a vaccine available that can be given to 1 day old chicks to prevent the disease.
Next, we will look at Coccidiosis. This disease can also effect most types of aviary. It is a disease that is caused by a bacterial infection inside the bird's intestine. The keys signs for this is that the bird will have a hunched posture with ruffled-looking feathers, and often also suffers from diarrhoea. This disease also may cause death if untreated. To prevent this disease from occurring, be sure to keep the area that your birds live in clean, such as by making sure hutches are regularly cleaned out, as this will prevent the bacteria from building up. If you think that a bird has become infected, we would recommend Verm-x, a product that will help to clear bacteria and other parasites out of any poultry bird's intestine.
Next up will be Black Head. This is a disease that primarily effects turkeys, and sometimes chickens, though they are generally very resistant to the disease. Most other aviary, such as ducks, pheasants, and geese are generally immune from it. Here, the birds will develop black spots on their head, and will often start producing yellow diarrhoea. If left untreated, this can possibly lead to death. The best way for a turkey owner to prevent this disease from cropping up is to prevent turkeys from ranging anywhere that chickens have been previously ranging within a span of 10 years, as the resistant chickens may have been carrying the disease and may have deposited it into that area. If you think a bird may be suffering from Black Head, be sure to make a visit to your local vet.
Fowl Pox is the next poultry health problem up for review. It is a viral infection that mainly effects chickens, though it may be passed from infected birds to other aviary such as turkeys too. The symtpoms of this disease includes a buildup of mucus, sneezing, a swollen face, heavy breathing, and a loss of appetite. The best way to protect yourself against the disease is to act in a preventative fashion - a vaccine is available against it, and any birds that do get inflicted should be separated from the rest of the flock to prevent further contagion.
The next poultry health problem we will look at is Thrush, which is also known by the name of candidiasis. This ailment can effect any type of birdn and is caused by a fungal infection. You'll know your birds have this if a white ooze-like substance appears between the birds' neck and body, and if you can spot a loss of appetite, lethargy, and ruffled feathers. To prevent your birds from picking this infection up, make sure their feed and water is not mouldy or stagnant, as this is where the majority of the fungi grows. If your bird does contract the disease though, it can be treated with anti-fungal treatments from your local vet.
The next ailment to be on the lookout for is Scaly Leg, which can effect all types of poultry, including ducks, turkeys, and chickens. The problem is caused by mites burrowing into the bird's legs, causing open wounds and making it possible for the legs to get dirty, possibly also causing irritation. This can also lead to further disease which can enter the birds' system through the open wounds. The main way to tackle the problem is by eradicating the burrowing mites. To do this, Scaley Leg Remover can be a great specific product in combating the ailment, though otherwise you will need to use products designed for eradicating pests or insects, such as Desi-Dust.
The next health problem to examine is Mycoplasma. This is a disease that mostly inflicts turkeys, though it can spread to chickens and ducks when they are housed with infected turkeys. The illness is caused by a viral infection, and symptoms include sneezing, runny eyes, and in some more extreme cases, lameness. In this way, many people liken the illness to a cold. To prevent your birds from contracting the infection, be sure to visit your vet to get them vaccinated, and keep any new birds separated from the main flock for several weeks to avoid contagion. If you think they have been infected already, see a vet, and they will most likely provide anti-biotics to fight it off.
The penultimate health complication that we will review here is Bumblefoot. This is an infection that can be developed mostly by either chickens and ducks, while most other aviary, such as turkeys, are generally immune to this disease (though there are some very similar conditions that can be confused with Bumblefoot). This disease is most often contracted after the bird cuts it's foot, which can occur due to numerous reasons, such as when the bird is scratching around and unknowingly hits a sharp stone, or if it steps on chicken wire. If the bird then picks up the disease while the wound is fresh, it can settle in and infect it. Symptoms will show when the foot begins to swell, and as the disease advances the rest of the leg will also swell. In some cases, the disease may eventually end up killing the bird if it is not treated. The most obvious ways of preventing the disease is to make sure that anything dangerous that could cut into the bird's flesh is removed from the environments that they nest or range within, though this will never be a certain way of ensuring that things like sharp stones are removed. If you think your bird contracts the disease, it's best to take them to a vet as soon as you can, as sometimes they will only prescribe anti-biotics, but if the disease has advanced too far, the bird may have to undergo surgery or amputation.
The final health tip we will give you for your poultry surrounds the topics of worms and parasites - a very general topic, but the one that is arguably most important to consider. A wide variety of different parasites exist, and unfortunately no bird will ever be completely safe from them. Further, there is never a uniform symptom for detecting when a bird has picked up some kind of parasite, simply because of the sheer number of symptoms there can be. Because of that, we here at Pet Food Plus More strongly suggest that you always keep yours birds protected from all possible parasitic infections. The best way to do this is to make sure you frequently use products such as Desi-Dust to keep parasites away and kill those that are already present in your birds' environment. For worms however, vets are the best bet to get properly protected, though there are some medicines like Verm-x that may also be a big help to you.
And with that, this article comes to a close. We hope that it has helped you to better understand some of the potential health problems that your poultry animals may face, and how you could prevent them, or treat them should you encounter them. If you have any leftover questions that you do not feel were answered within this article, feel free to contact us by clicking here, and we will be sure to help in whatever way we can.
Hope to see you in-store again some time soon!
Henry Jackson, Head of IT for Pet Food Plus More