5 Common Chicken Diseases and How to Prevent Them

Poultry farming is one of the most common farming practices in Zambia. However, your poultry is susceptible to abnormal conditions that cause some of the common chicken diseases that interfere with productivity. Such conditions are caused by parasites, viruses, bacteria or environmental stress. It is essential to combat diseases once you spot them to regain productivity and prevent your birds from dying. Here are five of the most common chicken diseases and how to avoid them:

a.     Exotic Newcastle

The exotic Newcastle disease targets the respiratory and nervous systems of chickens. The illness is characterized by breathing difficulties, swollen eyes, nasal discharges, falling feathers and sudden paralysis. You may also notice twisting of the head, muscle tremors, greenish watery diarrhoea and low production of eggs. The disease causes the chicken to have a low appetite and depression.

Treating Exoctic Castle

There is no particular medication for Newcastle disease, though most adult chickens survive it through antibiotics.

Preventing Exoctic Castle

The most effective way to protect your birds from Newcastle is immunization. Ensure your chicks get vaccinated early enough and adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle. Improving the brooding temperature by five degrees Celcius will prevent excessive losses to the disease.

b.     Avian Influenza

Avian influenza is a scary chicken disease caused by viruses. The highly contagious illness can pass through chickens, ducks, turkeys, quails and even ostriches. The virus spreads from contaminated faeces, saliva and nasal secretions. Avian influenza is a deadly disease with the capacity to wipe out your entire poultry; hence it is famous as bird flu.

Symptoms include breathing difficulties, coughing, sneezes, nasal discharge, poor appetite, dropped wings, diarrhoea, twisted neck, and tremors. You may notice paralysis and sudden deaths of your poultry.

Preventing Avian Influenza

Proper sanitation of the birdcages is a must. Ensure that you separate different birds and keep them away from other domestic animals. Consider strict quarantine of the sick fowls and introduce movement controls to prevent further spread. If you notice the disease nearby, don’t take it home. Depopulation through slaughtering infected birds will assist in containing the condition.

c.     Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is a poultry disease caused by the protozoa that infect different parts of the intestine. The infection multiplies within four to seven days. This rapid process causes intense damage to the intestines, hence the system’s inability to absorb fluids. As a result, there is no restitution for the water lost through diarrhoea. Characteristics of coccidiosis include ruffled feathers and the presence of clear or orange mucus in the droppings. You may also notice pale skin loss of appetite that results in weight loss.

Preventing Coccidiosis

The surest way of preventing coccidiosis is to vaccinate the chicks on the day of hatching. If you do not have an incubator, ensure that you buy poultry already developed immunity. Keep the litter dry and warm.

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d.     Fowl Cholera

Respiratory diseases are common in poultry. Fowl cholera is a respiratory infection that results from the bacterium P. multocida. It causes the death of cells resulting in a high mortality rate. The disease can be chronic or acute and quickly spreads from sick poultry to healthy ones. Some of the characteristics of fowl cholera include torticollis, pneumonia, swelling of the wattles and lameness.

Preventing Fowl Cholera

To eliminate the possibility of this infection, you will need to develop an eco-friendly lifestyle. You can achieve it by thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the hatch. You might also need to reduce the number of your poultry.

e.     Fowl Pox

Prevalent in turkeys and chickens, fowl pox is a viral disease that attacks the respiratory tract. It is also known as bird pox or sore head. Initially, it may be challenging to detect since it spreads very slowly. Fowlpox manifests itself in two ways. The wet fowl pox causes lesions that develop into growths which hinders breathing and feeding. Dry fowl pox attacks the face, eyelids, combs and other parts not covered in feathers. Your poultry may suffer from one or both types of a sore head.

Preventing Fowl Pox

The ultimate way of avoiding this disease is by vaccinating the chicken at 12weeks.


Keeping your birds happy and productive should be your top priority. Feeding them and cleaning their cages may not be enough to prevent diseases. However, the above points will help you become a better and more successful farmer.

About Author

Stephanie Caroline Snyder is a 27-year-old who graduated from The University of Florida in 2018. She majored in Communications with a minor in mass media. Currently, she is an Author and a Writer. She was born and raised in Panama City, Florida, where her family still lives.

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