Poultry Disease Prevention and Management

As has often been said, prevention is better than cure. This is particularly necessary in poultry production where an outbreak of a disease can wipe out a whole flock. A much better and more practical way of dealing with disease is by prevention. It does not mean vaccination alone but constitutes a host of other practices, which must be followed regularly. 


This means that whatever the bird is given or made to come in contact with should always be clean. Regular use of disinfectants is important in controlling pathogenic microorganisms. The farm and its premises should be kept clean. It is also important that employees be provided with showers and clean clothing on the farm. 

Pollution Control

Keep dust and offensive odour off the poultry house. 
Often, dusty air and bad odour are as a result of poor ventilation. Poor ventilation promotes rapid spread of respiratory diseases. 

Dead Birds and Waste Disposal

Avoid throwing dead birds and refuse all over the farm premises. Dead birds should be properly disposed off. 
There are many ways of achieving this: 
a. Incinerate (burn) in specially constructed facilities (incinerators) 
which when well operated are nearly odourless 
b. Use plastic bags to hold the dead birds, seal and remove from the farm 
c. Construct disposal pits in the ground into which dead birds are deposited for bacterial decomposition 
d. Bury dead birds, deep enough to avoid being dug up by dogs, rats or other animals. 

Consultation with other farmers and poultry experts

The “Lone Ranger” approach to poultry farming should be discouraged because more often than not, it is farmer who refuses to seek the advice and/or opinions of poultry experts and experienced and successful poultry farmers that runs into serious disease problems. Experts (poultry specialists, poultry pathologists and veterinarians) should be consulted at the beginning and regularly thereafter, for information on good source of day-old chicks, suitable housing designs, good management practices and recommendations that will ensure good performance from the birds. 
Consulting is a necessity for a beginner and should be important to those who have been in the business for a long time as is often the case, two heads are better than one. 

Good Water and Feed Supply

Most sources of water (pipe borne, 
borehole or well water) often contain some impurities. Ideally, water supply to the farm should be tested for chemical contamination and purity. Avoid using nearby streams as source of water as chemical fishing upstream may render the water poisonous to birds. Adequate 
feeding is important for good health and productivity. Feeds fed should be well balanced so as to prevent occurrence of nutritional problems and to enable the bird withstand stress and disease attacks. Always inspect feeds for possible presence of decayed material, moldy grains, poisonous weeds and other possible sources of trouble. 


Any poultry disease prevention strategy should involve a vaccination programme because the spread of some disease, particularly those of bacterial and viral origin is difficult to control even under the best management practices. Such diseases are therefore prevented by routinely vaccinating the birds. Just as there are many vaccines, so are there many vaccination programme. 
A suggested programme is given in table 11.8 for layers and broilers. 
This suggested programme is based on experiences in the Zaria area and can only be used as a guide. You should consult your local veterinarian for the best programme for your area. 

Post Mortem Examination

This means finding out the cause of death of the bird. It involves physical examination and laboratory tests, and should be conducted by a trained person. Information from this exercise is important in changing or modifying your management practices in order to avert future occurrence of similar or other disease problems. 

Control of external Parasites and Predators

The presence of external parasites on birds and rodents in poultry houses is a sign of poor management. These parasites irritate the birds and heavy infestation may cause heavy reduction in performance. The three main external parasites of poultry are lice, ticks and mites. They live within the feathers in all 
parts of the body and feed on the feathers or scales, while others bite or suck the blood of the host. Chemicals such as Malathion, carbaryl (Sevrin), Coumaphos, Rabon and Vetox can be used to control external parasites. Rodents (rats and mice) eat and destroy feeds and feed bags, transmit diseases and constitute a nuisance. Best control of rodents require general clean up and the use of baits such as warfarin, zinc phosphide, Epi Block and Havoc. 

Other Preventive Measures

State with good quality chicks, do not  mix birds of different ages and from different farms; restrict or prevent visitors into the poultry house; isolate sick birds as soon as discovered and seek veterinary attention; keep birds as comfortable as possible and avoid sudden changes in their environment which may cause stress 

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