best practice small poultry flocks by pa7E4jCO


									                                Best practice for small poultry flocks

There are lots of different          Legislation:
options when choosing
stock: hens or bantams, ex-                  Poultry are included in the farmed animals welfare
layers or ‘fancy fowl’,                       codes and the 5 freedoms apply:
waterfowl, turkeys, or quail
                                                i.    Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
and therefore management
should be individually                          ii.   Freedom from Discomfort
tailored to meet their
needs.                                         iii.   Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease

Producing a flock health                       iv.    Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour
plan is very useful even for
                                                v.    Freedom from Fear and Distress
small flocks including a
basic worming regime and                     All medicines should be recorded in a medicine record
treatment/ prevention of                      and kept for 5 years
external parasites (lice and
mites). Including biosecurity                Premises with 50 or more birds must be registered on
notes is also important as it                 the Poultry register (DEFRA)
is the best method of
                                             Flocks with more than 50 laying hens need to stamp
preventing diseases
                                              eggs for sale with their producer code
entering a flock. Vaccination
is possible although most                    Premises with more than 350 birds must take part in
vaccines are for commercial                   the National Salmonella Control Plan
use and come in 1000 dose
packs, this may be
considered if a specific
disease has been
diagnosed. Individual               Although the following list is not exhaustive it gives a general
treatment is also necessary         overview of indicators of disease. One of the most common
on occasion and treatment           causes of disease in small flocks is parasites and a brief
or possible options should          description is also given.
be discussed with a vet.
                    General health examination

Beak                 This should be free from discharge.

                     Overgrown beaks can also be a problem and may need

Combs and wattles    Cyanosis (going blue), anaemia (pale), dry crusting are
                     signs of disease

Ears                 Swollen head/ ears may be due to Mycoplasma or yeast
                     infections and need treatment

Eyes                 These should be bright and open. Discharges or swellings
                     may need medical treatment

Plumage              Poultry will moult naturally, mating, and brood patches are
                     also normal causes of feather loss. Stress, disease and
                     parasite challenge may cause feather loss.

Wings                Drooping wings is a sign of disease. In growing birds lack of
                     Vitamin D can cause dropped wings

Crop                     Pendulous crop- caused by damage to the muscle

                         Impacted crop – due to too much long fibre and not
                          enough grit

                         Sour crop – is caused by bacterial or yeast

Muscles              Weight loss should be investigated.

Skin                 Breast blisters should be treated and change in husbandry

Respiratory          There are many causes of respiratory challenge in poultry
                     including: viral, bacterial, mycoplasma and fungal causes

Legs                 Poultry going off their legs must be treated.

                     Other diseases include scaley leg (Mite), Bumblefoot
                     (Staphylococcal infection), Swollen joints (Mycoplasma)

Vent                 Lice, diarrhoea, vent pecking – should all be treated

Ascites              Fluid in the abdominal cavity is abnormal

Egg production       Eggs are laid in batches but reduction in egg production may
                     be due to disease. Soft shelled eggs, being egg bound and
                     prolapses should be addressed.
Internal Parasites

Worms - Outdoor birds are likely to pick up gastrointestinal parasites. These often have complex life-
cycles that involve earthworms and insects and can therefore live on pasture/ land for years.
Checking for worm eggs in faeces is the best practice and may be discussed with a vet before
starting a worming programme.

Coccidiosis - is caused by a protozoan parasite which can cause diarrhoea and poor growth in young
stock although older birds can be infected if there has been no previous challenge. There is a vaccine
available, but in general this can be managed by medication in feed or water.

External parasites

Lice - are flat yellow and approximately 2mm, they can be seen by the naked eye. They are usually
found around the vent and under the wings. Large clusters of eggs can also sometimes be seen
around the vent. Lice can cause irritation, some feather loss and loss of production.

Lice live on the birds and therefore treatment should be administered on each bird however
cleaning the hen house should also be done regularly to help prevent infestation.

Mites - Red mites live in the chicken coop and not on the birds, therefore you are unlikely to find
them when examining birds. They are usually seen at night and cause anaemia in affected birds
which is often detected by pale combs. They can live in the environment for 6 months even if birds
are not in the shed.

Scaly leg mites live on the birds and cause intense irritation. They cause whitish mounds of debris
below the scales and can also affect the face. This can be very difficult to get rid of and veterinary
advice should be sought.

To top