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Poultry Farming: The Most Common Diseases & How To Control Them

Poultry business is increasingly becoming a lucrative business in Uganda and the world at large.

The increasing demand for chicken (call it chicken meat) and eggs resulting from the growing population and townships across the country provides an opportunity for new and existing farmers to cash in on this enterprise.

Apart from earning from your poultry business, eggs and chicken can provide proteins to your family members. The enterprise can also be resourceful in providing manure to your other agribusiness enterprises. Those with limited land in towns, they can sell the manure which also lucrative.

However, diseases remain one of the key challenges to this enterprise so much that a farmer can lose all his birds if proper security and management measures aren’t put in place.

The good news is that many diseases can be controlled. In this article, we take you through the common diseases and how to control them.

The common poultry diseases include: – Coccidiosis, New Castle disease, Fowl Typhoid and Fowl pox. Poultry also may suffer from ectoparasites and edoparasites in addition to other vices.


a. Causes
The disease is caused by coccidian, which multiply very rapidly in the intestines. It usually occurs at 8 to 10 weeks of age and normally expresses itself in acute and chronic forms. In the acute type, death occurs in 5 to 7 days. The chronic type does not kill immediately but persists for long.
b. Symptoms
Infected birds or chicks become droopy, look unthrifty, and usually have ruffled feathers, pale beaks and shanks. Caecal coccidiosis has bloody droppings. Mortality may be high and sudden.
c. Control
Sulphur drugs are normally used for treatment, use of coccidiostat in feed and always ensuring dry litter are other controls.

Fowl Cholera
a. Causes
The disease is caused by pasteurella avicida, a microorganism that multiplies very rapidly in the blood causing poisoning. Sick birds, wild birds, human, animals or utensils transmit the disease.
b. Symptoms
The disease spreads very rapidly in a flock. There is yellowish colouration on birds’ droppings, which is followed by yellowish or greenish diarrhoea. Infected birds become droopy, feverish and sleepy. The birds also sit with the head down or turned backwards or rested in feathers about the wing.
c. Control
Birds with acute type should be destroyed and burned. House should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Treatment with recommended sulphur drugs is effective. Ensuring there is no wet litter is important, which provides ideal conditions for coccidian.
New Castle Disease
a. Causes
This disease is caused by a virus that infects respiratory and nervous system. In both chicks and old birds mortality varies from 0 to 100% depending on virulence of the organism.
b. Symptoms
Egg production declines up to zero in 4 days. When laying resumes, misshapen eggs are produced with rough shells and sometimes bleached shells.
In chicks, gasping coughing and sneezing is observed and ater nervous systems. Birds may be seen sitting on their back hock joints; others may walk backwards; or in circles; or hind their head between their legs.
In adult birds, external symptoms are more of respiratory nature, plus sudden decrease in egg production. Birds lose appetite and are droopy. If infection is severe, most birds sit on the floor and the roosts.
c. Control
Vaccinate chicks at 3 to 4 weeks of age. Repeat at 16 weeks of age and at the 24th week. Thereafter vaccinate when there is an outbreak in the area.
Fowl Typhoid
a. Causes

The disease is caused by a microorganism called salomonella gallinarum or shigella gallinarum.
b. Symptoms
Symptoms include dullness, ruffled feathers, paleness of the head drooping comb, loss of appetite and pale orange coloured diarrhoea. Symptoms appear in 3 to 4 day after infection and death occurs in 2 weeks. The disease can be introduced into the flock by infected birds, materials, shoes, litter, etc.
c. Control
Vaccinate the birds at 7 weeks of age.
Destroy all dead birds by burning.
Do not allow visitors to enter into the poultry unit without being disinfected.
Pullurum Disease
a. Causes

Pullurum disease is caused by a microorganism called Salomonella Pullurum, which infects the ovary of the hen. The microorganism can also be found in the intestine of chicks. The disease is usually spread by eggs laid by birds carrying the microorganism and chicks hatched from those eggs.
b. Symptoms
Chicks utter squeaky chirps and appear drowsy and ruffle. Vent is sometimes smeared with faecal discharges. In adult birds no external symptoms are seen. In baby chicks, symptoms are seen in 4 to 10 days with death occurring in 3 weeks.
c. Control
Destroy all confirmed carriers of the disease.
Clean and disinfect all the premises and incubators
Get chicks from hatcheries with good disease control programme.
Fowl Pox
a. Causes

Fowl Pox is a highly infectious skin disease. It is characterized by typical pox lesions in the form of wart-like scabs on the face, comb and wattles.
Provide footbath with disinfectant
Limit visitors to the unit
Workers should move from young to old flock in the units.
Clean and disinfect the house and equipment at the end of each crop and rest it for 1 to 2 weeks
These are mainly lice, fleas, mites and bedbugs.
Spray or dust the poultry and poultry house with recommended chemicals.
Replace litter at the end of each crop.
These are roundworms, tapeworms, gapeworms, etc.
Provide proper sanitary conditions in the rearing units.
Treat the flock by using recommended drugs from veterinary officers.
Birds will develop abnormal behaviors such as cannibalism, breaking and eating eggs, etc.
Occupy the birds by supplying grass in the unit for them to pick on.
De-beak the birds if the problem continues. Source: African Farm Resource Centre

Additional reporting from Agriculture Ministry

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Taddewo William Senyonyi
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

2 thoughts on “Poultry Farming: The Most Common Diseases & How To Control Them

  1. Olipa Denis Otal

    tell hw thy mix layer feeds

  2. Medad Ariheihi

    Will soon join the business,will be glad to receive periodic updates

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