Health Promotion Recommendations for Poultry Conservation
In recent years Avian Influenza and other infectious diseases,
like Exotic Newcastle Disease, have threatened flocks and made transportation
of birds difficult. Poultry raisers can protect their valuable flocks
by establishing biosecurity procedures and promoting flock health. Here
are some suggestions for keeping your poultry healthy and preventing the
introduction of disease into your flock.
- Observe your flock. Disease Prevention starts by
noticing changes in the behavior or health of poultry. Signs of ill
health may include: watery eyes; nasal discharge; paleness of face,
comb and wattles; swelling around eyes; odor; runny or off-colored manure;
lack of normal activity; slowness of movement; walking backwards; shivering
or hunchiness; irregular shape or color of iris; and loss of appetite
- Provide an environment conducive to supporting the health
of poultry. Dust and ammonia from old manure can damage the
health of lungs, making poultry prone to infection. The rule of thumb
is if you find the smell offensive or it burns your eyes, or the dust
makes you sneeze, then it is past time to clean the facilities.
- Encourage healthy levels of activity. Exercise is
important for muscle tone, good circulation and health, particularly
in active breeds. Providing poultry room to move around, as well as
an environment tailored to their needs (i.e. roosts, nest boxes or pools,
etc.), will greatly increase their level of activity.
- Provide adequate quality feed. Proper nutrition is
essential to the health of poultry and help stave off diseases. A bird
that has been poorly fed is under stress and will be more prone to infection.
Feed should be nutritionally balanced, fresh and free from molds or
fungi, and in sufficient quantities to satisfy the needs of the poultry.
- Provide clean, fresh water. Water should be changed
daily for optimum health, and the containers cleaned weekly or more
often if necessary. Allowing a film to form on the water container exposes
your poultry to small doses of toxins released from this algae-like
material. While this exposure rarely affects healthy stock, individuals
whose immune systems are already challenged may be at greater risk of
becoming ill. Chicks that drink from water containers with slime buildup,
and that have infrequent water changes, show a greater mortality to
- Prevent parasite infestations. Common infestations,
such as lice, mites, and worms, should be treated before they affect
the health of poultry. Parasites not only make poultry uncomfortable,
but they also reduce vitality by robbing them of blood nutrients –
leading to anemia, mal-nutrition and even death.
- Reduce stress. Stress opens the doors to disease
outbreak. While it is true that exposure to unclean environments can
help develop an immune system, this type of exposure challenges the
immune system. Stress is also caused by poor feeding habits, lack of
fresh water, and lack of exercise. An already challenged immune system
is less effective at warding off disease. This is why it is advisable
to enhance your husbandry practices during times of potential exposure
to disease outbreaks..
- Vaccinate to help prevent disease. Vaccination is
an excellent tool for protecting your flock. Vaccines cause the natural
development of antibodies. The American Poultry Association has excellent
advice on which types of vaccines can be used. Visit their site at www.amerpoultryassn.com.
As an example, there is some evidence that Newcastle vaccine may provide
at least partial immunity to Exotic Newcastle disease. It is always
a good idea to vaccinate for diseases that are prevalent in your part
of the country.
- Build the health of poultry by feeding them more than just
the necessities. Supplements can be used to build the health
of poultry. Vitamin-mineral supplements, probiotics, greens such as
kale, access to growing plants, and even yogurt and whey can be used
to build the health of poultry.