Common Poultry And Chicken Diseases

By Value Magazine Team on 20 September 2019 at 07:51 pm
Healthy Chicken

The chicken farmer needs to have a good understanding of chicken diseases, their causes, symptoms, cures and prevention.

Diseases are any changes in the chicken’s natural body functions that affect their production, growth and survival.

Chicken diseases are one of the biggest challenges in poultry farming. Be it chicken, ducks, geese, turkey or any other poultry, diseases can wipe out entire flocks or cause major reduction in production, leading to loses.

Signs of healthy chicken and other poultry

Whether you are keeping chicken, ducks, geese or parrots, all poultry share the same health traits. As a poultry farmer, you should be able to observe your birds and tell when something is wrong. Inspecting the health of your chicken involves observing their physical traits and behaviors.


The comb should be bright red, with no ulcerations or wounds


The vent of the chicken should be clear, without discharge or blockage.

Feet and toes

The feet should be smooth with no scales. The legs should be strong, fully supporting the bird's weight. The toes should be pointing straight, with no skin in between the toes.


The chicken feathers should be smooth, with a slick-looking sheen on them. There should be no patches of missing feathers unless the bird is molting.


The eyes should be clear and bright, without any discharge. The eyelids should not be visible when the bird is fully alert.


The mouth should be closed as the bird should not be breathing from its mouth, unless in very hot climates, where chicken breath with their mouths in order to coll their bodies. Moving the bird in a cool area should lead it to close its mouth.


The nose should be clear without any discharge.


The wings should be close to the body and not droopy or twisted. In hot climates, birds tend to droop their wings in order to cool themselves.

Activity Level

Chicken and other birds are social creatures with high levels of energy, always moving around. If they look depressed and not moving around, then something must be wrong.

Mental State

Chickens are always alert, unless at night when they cannot see. They should not be easy to catch. If the chicken looks dazed and does not react to your presence, you need further observation to ascertain if they are sick.

Egg Production

Egg production varies from breed to breed, but all chickens have a benchmark of which the farmer can peg production levels. Apart from the molting period, where production goes down to zero, any sudden drops in egg production indicate a disease or nutritional deficiency.

Categories of Poultry Diseases

Poultry diseases are categorized into four major categories. These include:-

  • Parasitic poultry diseases
  • Infectious poultry diseases
  • Behavioral poultry diseases
  • Nutritional and metabolic disease

Parasitic poultry diseases are caused when parasites infest poultry. Parasites are organisms that feed and live off other organisms. There are spread when poultry comes into contact with a parasite carrying organism or direct contact with the parasite. Common parasite carriers that spread parasites to poultry include other poultry, rodents, and wild birds. Parasites cannot live by themselves and depend on other organisms for survival. Common parasitic disease in poultry include:-

  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Coccidiosis
  • Cryptosporidiosis
  • Histomoniasis
  • Lice and Mites
  • Parasitic Worms

Infectious poultry disease occurs when a disease-causing organism, pathogen, invades the body of poultry, multiplies in the body leading to sickness. Pathogens are spread through indirect or direct contact from one living organism to the other. Infectious poultry disease include:-

  • Avian Encephalomyelitis
  • Avian Influenza
  • Infectious Coryza
  • Infectious Laryngotracheitis
  • Avian Tuberculosis
  • Marek’s Disease
  • Mycoplasmosis
  • Egg Drop Syndrome (EDS)
  • Fowl CholeNecrotic Enteritis
  • Newcastle Disease
  • Salmonellosis (Pasteurellosis)
  • Fowl Pox
  • Infectious Bronchitis
  • Infectious Bursal Disease (Gumboro)
  • Infectious Coryza
  • Infectious Laryngotracheitis
  • Lymphoid Leukosis
  • Marek’s Disease
  • Mycoplasmosis
  • Chicken Anaemia Virus Infection (CAV)
  • Chlamydiosis
  • Avian Encephalomyelitis
  • Avian Influenza

Behavioral poultry diseases are when birds start to behave abnormally dues to several factors that may include environmental, nutritional and housing environment. Behavioral poultry disease can lead to physical injury of the affected birds or other birds in the flock. An example of a behavioral disease is cannibalism and aggressive pecking.

Nutritional and metabolic poultry diseases come along when poultry lacks certain nutrients or their bodies are not able to utilize nutrients well. These are caused by genetic defects, lack of balanced diets or improper nutrient utilization. Nutritional and metabolic diseases include:-

  • Cage layer fatigue
  • Rickets
  • Slipped tendon (perosis)
  • Fatty liver syndrome


Very informative indeed

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By Value Magazine Team

Value Magazine was founded in 2018 by Mutuku Ndeti, a farmer with interests in poultry, horticulture, and fruit farming. You can follow him on twitter here. The goal of Value Magazine is to offer beneficial content on agribusiness, value addition, manufacturing, and productivity.  We believe not only in producing but also adding value to the product. 

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