Common chicken diseases

Every year chicken farmers undergo huge losses due to diseases on the farm. Therefore disease management is a huge consideration for anyone wanting to run a viable chicken farming business. Being able to recognise and respond to a disease attack on the farm is vital to have effective control of the attack.

A sick bird will generally look lethargic and unhappy. But that is not enough to diagnose the disease. The table below helps you identify some common diseases and what you can do about them.

Chiggers, red bugs
Air Sac Disease
Ascarids (Large Intestinal Roundworms)
Avian PoxFowl pox can come in two forms, wet or dry.
dry form,
• unfeathered areas have wart-like lesions that heal in about two weeks.
wet form
• lesions around the mouth
• discharge from your eyes.
Fowl PoxFowlpox can come in two forms, wet or dry.
dry form,
• unfeathered areas have wart-like lesions that heal in about two weeks.
wet form
• lesions around the mouth
• discharge from your eyes.
Bowlegs in Chicken
Cecal Worms
Crazy chick• chicks unable to walk in a straight line.
• chick may suddenly shake, topple and fall on their sides
• putting their heads between their legs.
• chicks alert. appetite not affected.
read more
Fowl Cholera• Dejection.
• Ruffled feathers.
• Loss of appetite.
• Diarrhoea.
• Coughing.
• Nasal, ocular and oral discharge.
• Swollen and cyanotic wattles and face.
• Sudden death.
• Swollen joints.
• Lameness.
Read more
Fowl Typhoid• ruffled feathers
• pale head
• drooping comb
• inappetence
• orange coloured diarrhoea
Fowl Tick (Blue Bug)
gape worms• open-mouth breathing
• grunting sound
• difficulty breathing
Gapes• open-mouth breathing
• grunting sound
• difficulty breathing
Infectious Bronchitis• Reduced egg production
• inappetence
• discharge from • the bird's eyes and nostrils
• laboured breathing.
more on infectious brochitis
Infectious Coryza• swelling of the face around the eyes and wattles
• nasal discharge
• swollen sinuses
• Watery discharge from the eyes
Lymphoid LeukosisChickens with lymphoid leukosis have few typical clinical signs. These may include:
• inappetence
• weakness
• diarrhea
• dehydration
• emaciation
• depressed before death
On postmotem
• enlarged bursa and liver
• tumors,
read more
New Castle Disease• Egg laying stops.
• misshapen eggs are produced with rough shells and sometimes bleached shells.
• In chicks, gasping coughing and sneezing
• Birds may be seen sitting on their back hock joints
walking backwards or in circles
• putting the head between their legs
• inappetence
• droopy.
• breathing difficulties, nasal discharge, murky eyes
• paralysis in their legs and wings.Newcastle Disease
navel illness, mushy chick disease
• drowsy and droopy
• Down(feathers) “puffed up”
• stand near the heat source
• indifferent to feed or water.
• Diarrhoea sometimes occurs.
• poorly healed navels
• bluish colour of the abdominal muscles
Pullorum Disease• Chicks utter squeaky chirps
• appear drowsy
• ruffled feathers.
• Vent smeared with faecal discharges.
• no external symptoms are seen in adult birds.
Coccidiosis• Droopy wings
• inactive
• ruffled feathers
• pale beaks and shanks
• bloody diarrhoea
• weight loss.
Twisted legsPerosis diseaseswollen, twisted, broken, or bowed legs, or loss of color in feathers, the comb, or the roof of the mouth.
Twisting Neck
• bird has difficulty balancing while standing because the neck twists,
• bird tries to balance by permanently looking upwards.
Ulcerative Enteritis (Quail disease)
Avian Influenza
Blackhead Disease(histomoniasis)listless
drooping wings
unkempt feathers
yellow droppings.
inflammation and ulcers in the cecum and liver
Botulism• Flaccid paresis of legs, wings, necks and eyelids
• The paresis rapidly progresses to paralysis
• birds fall into a deep coma with neck and head typically extended forward.
Cannibalismchicken pecking each other
CAPILLARIA (CAPILLARY OR THREAD WORMS)severe inflammation of intestines
Erosion of the intestinal lining
Curly Toe paralysis• unable to stand or walk
• toes curled
Egg eatingeating eggs laid by other birds or themselves.
Infectious Bursal Disease (Gumboro)Gumboro has no symptoms of its own. But infections leaves the chick's immune system dented and thus it susceptible to many other infections.
Infectious Synovitis • swollen, red, and warm hock joints.
• limping and difficult painful in walking.
Marek's Diseasealso referred to as fowl paralysis,
• tumours
• irregularly shaped pupils
• blindness
• partial paralysis
Necrotic Enteritis• Swollen stomach
• droopiness
• (postmotem: rotten intestines, foul smelling water in cavity)
Quil brochitisNo signs in chicken but in quil:
• respiratory distress, coughing, sneezing, rales
• nasal or ocular discharge
• Loose, watery droppings
• Conjunctivitis
Scratchingtoo much scratching with feet and beaks.
making noise

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