Dr. Tom W. Smith, Emeritus Professor of Poultry Science, Mississippi State University

The following solutions have been used as supportive treatments by poultry and game bird producers. They are intended as aids in treating the described conditions, not as a replacement for any management, drug, or antibiotic therapy.


Used as a general treatment for reducing distress conditions of birds (fever or listlessness) that accompanies many diseases.

Dissolve five (5 grain) aspirin tablets in one gallon of water.
Offer this solution free-choice to the birds for the duration of an illness. The solution aspirin equivalent to 25 grains/gallon or 324 mg/gallon of drinking water. The dosage rate is about 25 mg/lb body weight per day.


This solution can be used to treat young birds that show non-typical disease symptoms of poor growth. The solution can also be given to birds suffering from respiratory diseases that produce a large amount of mucus exudate. This solution will help “cut through” the mucus and allow it to be expelled easier.

Two quarts of apple cider vinegar diluted into 100 gallons of water (4 teaspoons/gallon)

The tannin in the apple cider vinegar aide in removing any mucus or coating from the mouth, throat, or intestinal tract. Nutrients and drugs are more readily absorbed. Offer this solution as the only drinking water source for two to three day intervals.


Use this solution as a treatment for mycosis (mold infection) in the crop. An alternate name for the condition is “Thrush”. Use the solution as a “follow-up” treatment after flushing with epsom salt solution–refer to the section for LAXATIVE SOLUTIONS.

Dissolve .5 lb copper sulfate and .5 cup vinegar into 1 gallon of water for a “stock” solution.
Dispense stock solution at the rate of 1 oz per gallon for the final drinking solution.

An alternate method of preparing the solution is:

Dissolve 1 oz copper sulfate and 1 tablespoon of vinegar into 15 gallons water. Use either solution as the sole water source during the course of the disease outbreak. Copper sulfate is often referred to as “bluestone”.


This procedure has been used to destroy pathogenic organisms such as Mycoplasma spp. that can be carried on the hatching eggs. The procedure must be conducted exactly as described, and is not intended as a routine hatching egg treatment. The procedure is only used in unusual situations.

The antibiotic solution contains 500 ppm gentamycin sulfate (1 gram per 2 liters of water) or 1 gram tylosin per liter of water. The hatching eggs must be carefully washed, rinsed, and sanitized prior to treatment. The eggs are then prewarmed to 100 degrees F. for 3-6 hours and immediately submerged into the antibiotic solution that has been previously cooled to 60 degrees F. The eggs are left in the antibiotic solution for 15 minutes before being placed into the incubator.

After each day’s use, the solution must be sterilized by heating to 160 degrees and maintained for 10 minutes. Any water lost during sterilization must be replaced. Refrigerate the solution in a clean covered container between uses to prevent bacterial contamination. Do not use or store solutions for more than three days after dilution.


The following solutions or mixtures are recommended to flush the digestive system of toxic substances, most notably for treating birds exposed to botulism toxins.

Molasses Solution

Add one pint of molasses to 5 gallons of water Offer the drinking solution free-choice to the affected birds for about four hours. Treat severely affected birds individually if they cannot drink. Return the birds to regular water after the treatment period.

As a supportive treatment for symptoms resulting from Cryptosporidia infection, often referred to as coronaviral enteritis, use:

One quart molasses in 20 gallons of water.

Offer this solution free-choice for a period of up to 7-10 days. It is assumed that the molasses replaces certain minerals lost from diarrhea during the course of the infection.

Epsom Salt Solution

1 lb Epsom Salt per 15 lb feed


1 lb Epsom Salt per 5 gallons water for 1 day

Give the epson salt feed mixture as the sole feed source for a one day period. This feed can be used only if the birds are eating. If the birds are not eating, use the water solution. If the birds are unable to eat or drink by themselves, use individual treatment with:

1 teaspoon of Epsom Salt in 1 fl oz water.

Place the solution in the crop of the affected bird. This same amount of solution will treat 5-8 quail or one chicken.

Castor Oil Therapy

Dose individual birds with .5 oz castor oil.


The following solutions can be used as supplements to diets that are deficient in certain amino acids, energy, or vitamins and electrolytes. They are used only as temporary additives and not intended as part of a regular feeding program.

Amino Acid Solution

100 grams (7 fl oz) dl-methionine and 110 grams (6 fl oz) l-lysine HCl dissolved in 50 gallons water.
2 grams (.8 tsp) dl-methionine and 2.2 grams (.7 tsp) l-lysine HCl in one gallon of water

Offer the solution free-choice to the birds as an aide to reducing the depressing effects of low-protein diets. Make up a fresh solution daily and offer to birds in clean waterers. All measurements in parentheses () are volumetric measurements while those expressed in grams are weight measurements.

Sucrose Solution

10 ounces of granulated sugar per gallon of water.

This solution may be given as an energy treatment for weak chicks. Offer the solution as the only water source for the first 7-10 days. Clean the drinkers and replace with fresh solution at least once daily. The solution shown above contains eight percent sugar and approximately 2000 kilocalories per gallon.

Vitamin & Electrolyte Solution

This solution can be used to reduce the effects of stresses caused by subclinical diseases, transporting, management errors, etc. Dilute a commercial vitamin/electrolyte packet into the prescribed amount of water. Use as the only source of drinking water until the stress problem has been corrected.


The following treatments have been shown to be effective for eliminating internal parasites from poultry and game birds. Neither of these drugs (fenbendazole or leviamisole) has been approved for use by FDA, so the producer accepts all responsibility for their use. Both drugs have been very effective if used properly and will eliminate most types of internal parasites that affect birds. Caution: Do not use with birds producing eggs or meat destined for human consumption.

Fenbendazole Treatments

One-day Treatment

1 oz Safeguard or Panacur per 15-20 lb feed

Dissolve the fenbendazole product in one cup of water. Mix this solution well into the feed and give to the birds as their only feed source for one day. When completely consumed, untreated feed can be given. Be sure that the commercial medication contains 10% fenbendazole.

Safeguard is a product of Ralston Purina, and Panacur is a product marketed by American Hoechst. One ounce of medication will treat about 1000 10-oz bobwhite quail. Adjustments of the amounts of medication and feed needed may be necessary depending on the number and size of the birds.

Three-Day Treatment

1.2 oz Safeguard or Panacur in 100 lb feed


4 oz pkt of “Worm-A-Rest Litter Pack” (Ralston Purina) in 50 lb feed


5 lb bag of “Worm-A-Rest Mix Pack” in 495Lb feed.

Feed all the medicated feeds free-choice for three consecutive days. The feed mixtures provide 75 ppm fenbendazole. Quail will receive about 1.7 mg/bird each day for adult birds or 2.75 mg/lb of bodyweight.

Fenbendazole has been shown to be a very effective treatment for eliminating Capillaria (capillary worms), Heterakis (cecal worms), Ascaridia (roundworms), and Syngamus spp. (gapeworms). Toxicity from overdosing with fenbendazole is very remote. Research indicates that amounts up to 100 times the recommended dosages have been given under research conditions without adverse effects to the birds. Use of this product during molt, however, may cause deformity of the emerging feathers.

Leviamisole Solutions

52 gram (1.84 oz) pkt Tramisol in 100 gallons water


13 gram (.46 oz) pkt Tramisol in 25 gallons water


52 gram (1.84 oz) pkt in 3 qt water (stock solution)

Dissolve the 52 gram packet of “Tramisol Cattle and Sheep Wormer” or the 13 gram packet of “Tramisol Sheep Drench Powder” into the appropriate amount of water. If the stock solution is used with a water proportioner, be sure that the stock solution is dispensed at the rate of 1 oz/gallon in the drinking water.

Any of the solutions are effective at treating Capillaria (capillary worms), Heterakis (cecal worms), and Ascaridia (roundworms). The solutions contain .5 gram of leviamisole per gallon of water. Allow the birds to drink the solution for one day, then remove. In severe cases, the treatment can be repeated every 5-7 days.


Mite and Lice Body Spray Solution

Dissolve into 10 gallons of water:

6.5 fl oz 10% Permethrin EC


11.5 fl oz 5.7% Permethrin EC


2.5 fl oz 25% Permethrin EC


1.5 lb 25% Malathion wettable powder


5.3 oz 57% Malathion EC


.75 lb 50% Carbaryl (Sevin) wettable powder

Spray birds thoroughly to wet the skin and feathers. Pay particular attention to the vent area of the birds. Each gallon of spray will treat 75-100 adult leghorn-type laying hens or 250-300 adult quail. A second treatment can be applied about four weeks after the first application if necessary. The walls, ceiling, and litter of the house can be sprayed with these solutions to kill individual insects not on the birds.

Mites, Lice, and Housefly Residual Spray

Dissolve one of the following in 10 gallons of water.

1 quart 5.7% Permethrin EC


1 pint 10% Permethrin EC


6 oz 25% Permethrin wettable powder


3 lb 25% Malathion wettable powder


10 fl oz 57% Malathion EC

Apply the permethrin spray to all ceilings, walls, roosts, nests, cracks, and crevices at the rate of one gallon for every 750 square feet. One application will be effective for at least three weeks.Malathion sprays are used as residual sprays to ceilings, walls, roosts, litter, and any dark location that is difficult to reach. Malathion sprays are applied at the rate of one gallon for every 500-750 square feet. Malathion is not recommended for fly control, but is usually effective when used in combination with body sprays for mites and lice.


These solutions will reduce or eliminate slime and most disease organisms in water, drinkers, and water lines.

For Constant Use

1 teaspoon chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) in 5 gallons of drinking water

This solution provides 11 ppm chlorine for sanitizing. The birds will drink the water and not be harmed by drinking it. They may need a short time to become accustomed to this solution. A more dilute solution with half the above level of bleach can be offered for a few days before using the 11 ppm solution. Clean the waterers thoroughly each day to get the best effect.

Weekly Sanitizing Rinse Solution

1 oz Chlorine Bleach in 6-8 gallons water Rinse, soak, or expose equipment to this solution. Let stand at least one hour, then rinse with fresh water. This solution contains equivalent to 45 ppm chlorine. The procedure is most effective if conducted on a weekly basis. Remember, chlorine disinfectants are inactivated by organic matter. Clean all equipment well before using chlorine rinse solutions.


Clean waterers prior to vaccination. Deprive the birds of drinking water beginning one hour in hot weather and two hours in moderate or cold weather. Mix 3.2 oz powdered skimmed milk packet or equivalent into ten gallons of water. The milk neutralizes the small amount of chlorine or sanitizer present in many water sources.

Follow the vaccine manufacturer’s mixing instructions for dilution level. Administer vaccine-water solution in the waterers immediately after mixing. All the vaccine solution must be consumed within 15-20 minutes if good immunization is expected.


Trade names have been used in an effort to make the information contained herein more useful. No endorsement of named products is intended, nor is criticism implied of similar products that are not mentioned.



Observing Your Birds In Cages To Assess Their General Condition

Observing Your Birds In Cages To Assess Their General Condition

By Ritzelle Maria Q. Capili, DVM

External manifestations

  • Birds should have a well-rounded and bright eye; slightly oval eyes means that birds are not fully alert.
  • Any bird that spends all its time huddled in a corner, taking no notice of an observer, is near death.
  • Mostly, if not always, by the time one realizes that a bird is coming down with an infection, it is usually sick.
  • Twisting of the neck (torticollis), paddling (circling), paralysis and spasms may indicate Vit B or E deficiency, infectious disease or poisoning.

Character of the droppings

  • ALWAYS examine fresh droppings dark-colored central part from the rectum and off- white colored surrounding portion consisting mainly of urate crystals from the kidneys.
  • Blood in the droppings may come from the intestines, rectum, cloaca or oviduct: may indicate ulceration, bacterial, viral or protozoal infection of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Yellow droppings may be associated with cholera or typhoid infection.

Breathing abnormalities

  • A dyspneic, gasping bird (difficulty in breathing) may not have a respiratory infection, but is certainly sick.
  • Blue discoloration (cyanosis) on the head region may indicate chronic viral respiratory infections.
  • Change in voice, which becomes harsh, or a change in pitch may indicate a problem in the upper respiratory tract.
  • Clicking or asthmatic noises (rales and wheezing) may be of viral, bacterial or fungal cause.

Physical examination of the restrained bird

Plumage (Feathers)

  • Should be free from external parasites like mites, lice


  • Swelling just above the eye may be evidence of sinusitis.
  • Brown, crusty eruptions around the eyelids and beak may be due to Fowl Pox
  • Mareks disease can cause tumors in the pupil and iris of the eye.
  • Foaming of the eye is common with many viral mycoplasmal or parasitic infections.


  • Cracking of the beak may be due to trauma or Vit A deficiency.
  • Abnormal beak formation may be due to Vit D, Calcium, Biotin and Vit B-complex.


  • Pectoral muscle should he symmetrical upon palpation.

On Tapeworms

  • Aim of satisfactory treatment: complete removal of both adult and larval stage
  • If destrobilization only occurred, the intact scolex is likely to regenerate another body in about 3 WEEKS.
  • Examination of the host’s feces for tapeworm segments is advised at 3-4 weeks following initial drug treatment

Causes of diseases

  • INFECTIOUS: bacteria, virus, fungi parasite, protozoa
  • NON-INFECTIOUS: mechanical (trauma), thermal (chilling, heat stress), nutritional (vitamin deficiencies, nutritional imbalance), metabolic, genetic, toxic, neoplastic, immunologic, aging, idiopathic (unknown cause).

Common clinical signs of digestive problems

  • Innapatence: birds stop consuming feeds.
  • Diarrhea; normal digestion is disrupted (usually first seen as inflammation of the cloaca).
  • Dehydration
  • Uneven growth rate of flock: mixture of healthy and stunted birds due to varying immune competence.
  • Pale shanks, feather abnormalities, improper bone growth: result of inadequate absorption of vitamins and minerals.

On Coccidiosis

  • Young birds (2-4 weeks) are more susceptible; sick and recovered birds may shed infection and become a carrier.

On Salmonella infection

  • Can he acquired via eggs of infected hens.
  • Infected chicks via egg or hatchery die during the first few days of life (up to 2-3 weeks of age).

Common signs of respiratory disturbances

  • Quiet and less active birds
  • Snicking and clicking
  • Swelling of eyelids
  • Rales and coughing, watery discharges from eyes and nostrils caused by excess mucus in the trachea
  • Difficulty in breathing with necks extended and beak open

On Fowl Pox

  • Dry lesions: occur on skin, head, legs- enlarged and filled with fluid, may blend together and turn dark brown or black
  • Wet lesions: occur in the pharyngeal area and upper GIT-interfere with breathing


General Care of Penned Cocks

General Care of Penned Cocks

by Texan (1973)

It seems that quite a number of people have written their method of feeding their fowl, and a few comments on the general care of their penned fowl. Country walks are nonexistent in this area and the few I was able to find were not satisfactory. This forced me to pen walks and I treid quite a few before I was satisfied.

My basic feed for my penned fowl and hens of the yard was the same, but varied a little. I used 1/3 clipped white oats, 1/3 good scratch feed, 1/3 laying pellets, plus 10 percent calf manna. In the summer time, 1/2 oatsm 1/4 scratch feed and 1/4 egg pellets, plus 10 percent calf manna; quite frequently (about twice a week) I substituted 10 percent rabbit pellets for the calf manna, due to their high alfalfa content. About twice a week I put cod liver oil over the grain feed until it glistens when you stir it with a stick. I never liked the smell of cod liver oil on my hands, but Lava soap will remove most of the odor. I used this cod liver oil especially during the moult, but also the rest of the year. The shiny plumage, red heads and slick feet and general well being made the extra work worthwhile.

Oats are a must in my feeding, and I mixed a little in my broiler mash for my young chicks. When about 10 days old I used medicated broiler mash from start to finish on my young ones, and like the way they did. I wormed my fowl, but never did that as frequently as I should have.

My space was limited and I found by experience not to raise any great number of fowl and had very little sickness or loss of fowl. I violated that rule one year and it cost me dearly. I found it was better not to raise my chicks on wire for when I put them on the ground; they had no resistance to disease. It is better to lose the chicks (if you had to) at an early age of one to three weeks, than three months as you have very little invested in them at that time.

If you have plenty of grass in your yards you are fortunate. I did not so I fed lettuce leaves two or three times a week and fed the penned cocks smaller pieces. To make sure the hens on the yard cleaned the leaves up, I would leave the leaves in several boxes under shade trees, by night the boxes were bare. This also prevented the lettuce from getting dirty. It was quite a sight to see several hens in the boxes and of course every so often they would have to fight a little. I kept the spurs sawed off my hens. Fortunately, my hens did not all have spurs. I never did agree with the theory that your hens had to be spurred to produce good pit cocks. They did produce more blinker hens on the yard than I liked.

I never bred hens that were vicious and fought all of the time. Both my hens and brood cocks were selected for good disposition as well as good conformation. “Like father, like son” as the old saying goes, and that is where your manfighters come from. I did not keep any manfighters, for you are fooling yourself. The ones I have seen fight turned on their handlers when hurt in the pit. The final touch to the above statement was the time when a friend and I fought one together and when he turned on his handler and got killed, the price of that lesson was $40 plus the two years in raising that cock. The mother of that cock was mean and excitable and her son took after her. Needless to say I disposed of all of them. Life is too short to put up with a manfighting cock and when that happened my red headed grandpa came to life in me and disposed of him.

In feeding mt penned cocks, I used a snuff can (that used to sell for a dime) and this twice a day. This can held 1 3/4 ounces of fed per cock, per day. If a cock left any feed I cut the feed down the next time around or gave him none at all if too much was left on the ground. It was hard to tell that for the sparrows cleaned it up in short order, so I had to check when I got through feeding the last cock. I usually fed a known slow eater first, so that I could check on him when I finished feeding the others.


(Antiprotozoal) Trichomoniasis Canker Treatment: (Spondias) Sineguela

(Antiprotozoal) Trichomoniasis Canker Treatment: (Spondias) Sineguela.

Management Diseases



Caged Layer Fatigue

 Cage layer fatigue is a condition that is unique to hens that are in a high state of egg production, primarily caged layer hens. The cause of the condition is thought to be associated in an imbalance of minerals/electrolytes in the body.

Rickets and abnormal bones in adult birds is commonly present. In layers under thirty weeks of age, the cause is usually a temporary calcium deficiency when egg production reaches eighty percent or higher. If intake of calcium does not satisfy the need for egg production, the hen will remove calcium stored in the bones. Ultimately, osteoporosis develops, bones become soft and hens are subject to bone fractures. Crippled and unable to stand, the hen suffers from the caged fatigue symptoms.

Many hens show spontaneous recovery if removed from the cages and allowed to walk normally on the floor. This indicates that a lack of exercise may be a partial cause. Cage layer fatigue is more prevalent in single-hen cages than in multiple-hen cages. When two or more hens are caged together, they get more exercise because of competition for feed and water.

Supplementation of the diet with phosphate, calcium and vitamin D3 is usually helpful. Adding calcium to young birds by top-dressing the feed with twenty pounds of oyster shell or limestone per one thousand hens will often help the condition. In older hens, calcium deficiency is less likely than phosphorus or vitamin D3 deficiencies. Recommended treatment in these birds is to remove the hens from cages and top-dress feed with equivalent level of dicalcium phosphate. Adding a vitamin/electrolyte supplement to drinking water is recommended in any age bird suffering from this condition.

Flocks that do not respond to the above therapy should be submitted to a poultry disease diagnostic laboratory to determine the cause of the problems. Several diseases can cause symptoms similar to caged layer fatigue. Flock treatment for the condition can be prescribed after diagnosis is completed.

Fatty Liver Hemorrhagic Syndrome

 Fatty liver syndrome is a condition that affects only hens. The basic cause is thought to be excessive dietary energy intake. Hereditary tendencies vary among various strains of egg production stock, but heredity is not the entire cause for this malady. Laying hens housed in cages are most often affected since they are less able to get sufficient exercise and dispose of the extra dietary energy.

Birds within a flock that are most often affected are the high producers. This indicates that physiological energy metabolism and production are closely associated with this condition. Mortality varies considerably among flocks but can become excessive in some cases. Lesions include accumulation of large amount of abdominal fat; enlarged, easily damaged liver and presence of blood clots that indicate that hemorrhages have occurred prior to death. Death usually is caused by a fatal internal hemorrhage originating in a portion of the liver. This hemorrhage is often caused as the hen is straining to lay her egg and the enlarged, friable liver is more vulnerable to injury. When a large blood vessel ruptures, sufficient blood is lost to cause death of the hen.

The primary treatment for this condition requires an alteration of the diet or amount of dietary energy consumed. Replacement of some of the corn in the diet with lower energy feedstuffs like wheat bran can provide a lower energy diet. If a complete layer ration is being fed, addition of vitamins can be of benefit. If grains are the primary feedstuff, it is suggested that the birds be switched to a complete layer diet. Control of body fat is the only successful remedy for this condition and is best accomplished by regulation and reduction of total energy intake.


 Cannibalism is prevalent among chickens of all ages and can become a serious problem if not corrected early. The problem is most severe when birds are housed in close confinement. In most cases it is a vice that progresses from a minor stimulus and soon becomes a severe problem.

Many causes are thought to initiate the problem but it is not understood why it is uncontrollable in some cases but never becomes a problem in other situations. Cannibalism may start as toe picking in baby chicks; feather picking in growing birds; or head, tail and vent picking in older birds. The early symptoms of a cannibalism problem may be difficult to detect. It is necessary that the poultry man be on constant guard to detect any aggressive behavior and take necessary management changes before the problem progresses into a severe case of cannibalism.

Causes that can result in cannibalism include:

· High density of birds within a confined area,

· Brooding chicks at temperatures that are too warm,

· Small or weak chicks, especially those having oddly colored down or feathers,

· Exposing birds to light that is too intense or having a color that induces aggression,

· Restriction of feed or water intake,

· Feeding a diet with a deficiency of salt or sulfur-containing amino acids (protein),

· Allowing dead birds to remain exposed to the flock,

· Lack of or absence of properly designed nest boxes.


Regardless of the cause, some method of preventing this vice must be used. The most common procedure to reduce cannibalism is to debeak the birds. Birds grown in houses with very low light intensity may not require debeaking. Those grown in houses receiving normal daylight should be debeaked at the hatchery or within the first two weeks after hatching. This helps reduce the incidence of feather picking that often develops into a severe case of cannibalism.

A special method of hot debeaking has been developed for debeaking broiler chicks at one day of age. Rather than severing or cutting the beak, a hot blade is used to burn an area near the tip of the upper beak (egg tooth). The procedure is designed to leave a thin base to the tip of the upper beak. This makes it easier for the chick to eat without having a sensitive, raw beak. The tip of the upper beak gradually drops off without apparent injury to the chick, thus leaving a shortened upper beak and a normal lower mandible.

Reducing the mortality is a primary concern that responds well to adequate floor space. Birds should not be crowded but instead, provide sufficient room so that weaker birds can escape from those that are more aggressive. Reducing the amount of floor space usually results in increased mortality and reduced growth rate. Not only is there a monetary loss involving the cost of the chick, but the value of the feed, labor, and other items necessary to grow a chick until the time of death is a direct loss. There is also the lost profit that could have been earned if the dead birds had lived until market or egg production age.


Fungal Diseases

Aspergillosis (Brooder Pneumonia)

 Aspergillosis has been observed in almost all birds and animals, including man. The disease is observed in one of two forms; acute outbreaks with high morbidity and high mortality in young birds, and a chronic condition affecting adult birds. It is more of a problem in turkeys than in chickens.

The condition is caused by Aspergillus fumigatus, a mold or fungus-type organism. Occasionally other types of molds are involved. These organisms are present in the environment of all poultry. They grow readily on many substances such as litter, feed, rotten wood and other similar materials.

The bird comes in contact with the organisms through contaminated feed, litter or premises. The disease is not contagious and does not spread from one bird to another. Most healthy birds can withstand repeated exposure to these organisms. Inhalation of large amounts of the infectious form of the mold or reduced resistance of the bird apparently results in infection. In adult turkeys, the disease more often affects the male.

In the acute form in young birds, main symptoms are gasping, sleepiness, loss of appetite and sometimes convulsions and death. Occasionally the organism invades the brain, causing paralysis or other forms of nervous symptoms. The more chronic form in older birds usually results in loss of appetite, gasping or coughing and a rapid loss of body weight. Mortality is usually low and only a few birds are affected at one time.

The disease produces hard nodular areas in the lungs and an infection of the air sacs. Sometimes the air sac lesions are similar to those produced by infectious sinusitis or CRD. In some birds, colonies of mold growth can be seen on the air sac membranes.

Diagnosis is usually made from history, symptoms and lesions. It may be necessary to base diagnosis on microscopic lesions.

The disease can usually be prevented by avoiding moldy litter, feed or premises. There is no treatment for the affected flock. Cleaning and disinfecting the equipment is often helpful.


It is known that certain strains of fungi (molds) growing in feed or feed ingredients can produce toxins that, when eaten by man or animals, can cause a very lethal disease called mycotoxicosis. The toxins produced by these fungi are very toxic and rivals the botulism toxin for toxicity.

Mycotoxicosis is caused by ingestion of toxic substances produced by molds growing on feed, feed ingredients and possibly litter. Several types of fungi produce toxins that may cause problems in poultry, but of primary concern are substances produced by the Aspergillus flavus fungi and are thus called aflatoxins. Aspergillus flavus is a common mold that grows on many substances, and grows especially well on grain and nuts. Several other fungi also produce toxins that cause the disease.

The aflatoxins include four closely related metabolites of A. flavus known as B1, B2, G and G2. The B1 toxin is the most toxic and is of greatest concern to the poultry industry.

Mold toxins cause a wide variety of signs, many difficult to recognize. The aflatoxins under certain conditions cause death, reduced growth, reduced egg production, reduced hatchability, signs associated with “physiological stress” and impaired ability to develop immunity to infectious agents. Diagnosis is difficult because characteristic lesions usually are not present, and detection of the toxin is not conclusive.

Molds are widespread in nature. Standing grains and other feed substances are frequently infected with toxin-producing molds prior to harvest. The key is proper storage to control moisture and temperature to reduce growth of the molds while in storage. Although the mold is present, it cannot produce toxic products unless allowed to grow freely. Aflatoxins in feeds can be detected by chemical tests. Once the toxin is produced there is no known method for removing it from the feed or cancelling its harmful effects. Providing a diet containing high fat and high protein levels and augmenting the ration with vitamin supplements may be of value.

Moniliasis (Crop Mycosis, Thrush)

 This is a disease that primarily affects the upper digestive tract of all birds and is characterized by whitish thickened areas of the crop and proventriculus, erosions in the gizzard, and inflammation of the vent area. It is caused by a yeast-like fungus (Candida albicans).

Poultry of all ages are susceptible to the effects of this organism. Chickens, turkeys, pigeons, pheasants, quail and grouse are species most commonly affected as well as other domestic animals and humans. The Candida organism is widely spread throughout the poultry producing areas of the world.

Moniliasis is transmitted by ingestion of the causative organism in infected feed, water or environment. Unsanitary and unclean water troughs are an excellent reservoir of the Candida organism. The disease does not however, spread directly from bird to bird. The organism grows especially well on corn, so infection can be introduced by feeding moldy feed.

This malady produces no specific symptoms. Young birds become listless, pale, show ruffled feathers and appear unthrifty. Affected caged layer hens become obese and anemic. Some birds exhibit a vent inflammation that resembles a diarrhea induced condition having whitish incrustations of the feathers and skin around the area. Feed consumption may increase by ten to twenty percent.

Gross lesions are mostly confined to the crop, proventriculus and gizzard. The crop and proventriculus have whitish thickened areas that are often described as having a “turkish towel” appearance. Erosion of the lining of the proventriculus and gizzard is commonly observed, as well as an inflammation of the intestines. Diagnosis is based on history and typical lesions in the flock. Confirmation of the condition is by isolation and laboratory identification of the C. albicans organism.

Treatment of the flock with an antimycotic drug will control the infection. Many broad spectrum antibiotics will enhance this disease; therefore they should not be used until after control of this condition is completed. Addition of Nystatin (100 g/Ton) or copper sulfate (2-3 lb/Ton) to the feed for seven to ten days should control moniliasis.

Once introduced into the flock, moniliasis is perpetuated by suboptimal management conditions. Preventative measures include the continual use of mold inhibitors in the feed, proper feed handling and storage, daily cleaning and sanitizing of the watering system and periodic stirring and/or replacement of wet litter areas to prevent caking. An inexpensive, yet effective, water treatment is the continuous addition of household chlorine bleach to the drinking water at the rate of five parts per million (ppm).

Viral Diseases

Viral Diseases


Avian Pox

Avian pox is a relatively slow-spreading viral disease in birds, characterized by wart-like nodules on the skin and diphtheritic necrotic membranes lining the mouth and upper respiratory system. It has been present in birds since the earliest history. Mortality is not usually significant unless the respiratory involvement is marked. The disease may occur in any age of bird, at any time.

Avian pox is caused by a virus of which there are at least three different strains or types; fowl pox virus, pigeon pox virus and canary pox virus. Although some workers include turkey pox virus as a distinct strain, many feel that is identical to fowl pox virus.

Each virus strain is infective for a number of species of birds. Natural occurring pox in chickens, turkeys and other domestic fowl is considered to be caused by fowl pox virus.

Fowl pox can be transmitted by direct or indirect contact. The virus is highly resistant in dried scabs and under certain conditions may survive for months on contaminated premises. The disease may be transmitted by a number of species of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can harbor infective virus for a month or more after feeding on affected birds. After the infection is introduced, it spreads within the flock by mosquitoes as well as direct and indirect contact. Recovered birds do not remain carriers.

Since fowl pox usually spreads slowly, a flock may be affected for several months. The course of the disease in the individual bird takes three to five weeks. Affected young birds are retarded in growth. Laying birds experience a drop in egg production. Birds of all ages that have oral or respiratory system involvement have difficulty eating and breathing. The disease manifests itself in one or two ways, cutaneous pox (dry form) or diphtheritic pox (wet form).

Dry pox starts as small whitish foci that develop into wart-like nodules. The nodules eventually are sloughed and scab formation precedes final healing. Lesions are most commonly seen on the featherless parts of the body (comb, wattles, ear lobes, eyes, and sometimes the feet).

Wet pox is associated with the oral cavity and the upper respiratory tract, particularly the larynx and trachea. The lesions are diphtheritic in character and involve the mucous membranes to such a degree that when removed, an ulcerated or eroded area is left.

Fowl pox is readily diagnosed on the basis of flock history and presence of typical lesions. In some cases, laboratory diagnosis by tissue or transmission studies is necessary.

There is no treatment for fowl pox. Disease control is accomplished best by preventative vaccination since ordinary management and sanitation practices will not prevent it. Several kinds of vaccines are available and are effective if used properly.

Vaccination of broilers is not usually required unless the mosquito population is high or infections have occurred previously. The chicks may be vaccinated as young as one day of age by using the wing-web method and using a one needle applicator. All replacement chickens are vaccinated against fowl pox when the birds are six to ten weeks of age. One application of fowl pox vaccine results in permanent immunity.

Newcastle Disease

Newcastle disease is a contagious viral infection causing a respiratory nervous disorder in several species of fowl including chickens and turkeys. Different types or strains of the virus (varying in their ability to cause nervous disorder, visceral lesions and death) have been recognized.

The most severe strain is called viscerotropic velogenic Newcastle disease (VVND) and is kept from birds in the U.S. by enforcement of strict quarantines at our national borders. It is often referred to as ”Exotic Newcastle Disease” and infection of susceptible fowl with this form usually causes high mortality. Due to the reduced chance that poultry in this country will become infected with this disease form, it will not be discussed.

A milder form of the disease is called ”mesogenic” Newcastle disease and is the most serious strain found in the U.S. This is the form that is referred to as Newcastle disease in this discussion.

Newcastle disease is highly contagious. All birds in a flock usually become infected within three to four days. The virus can be transmitted by contaminated equipment, shoes, clothing and free-flying birds. During the active respiratory stage, it can be transmitted through the air. The virus is not thought to travel any great distance by this method. Recovered birds are not considered carriers and the virus usually does not live longer than thirty days on the premises.

Signs of Newcastle disease are not greatly different from those of other respiratory diseases. The signs most frequently observed are nasal discharge, excessive mucous in the trachea, cloudy air sacs, casts or plugs in the air passages of the lungs and cloudiness in the cornea of the eye.

The disease in young chickens begins with difficult breathing, gasping and sneezing. This phase continues for ten to fourteen days and may be followed by nervous symptoms. If nervous disorders develop, they may consist of paralysis of one or both wings and legs or a twisting of the head and neck. The head often is drawn over the back or down between the legs. Mortality may vary from none to total loss of the flock.

In adult chickens, respiratory symptoms predominate. Only rarely do nervous disorders develop. If the flock is laying, egg production usually drops rapidly. When this occurs, it takes four weeks or longer for the flock to return to the former production rate. During the outbreak, small, soft-shelled, off-colored and irregular-shaped eggs are produced. Mortality in adult birds is usually low but may be fairly high from some virus strains.

In turkeys, the symptoms are usually mild and may be unnoticed unless nervous disorders develop. During an outbreak, turkeys will produce eggs with a chalky white shell. Reduced production in breeder flocks is the main economic loss from this disease in turkeys.

The flock history, signs of a respiratory nervous disorder and other typical lesions often may be sufficient to allow a tentative diagnosis. Usually, however, the disease cannot be differentiated from infectious bronchitis and some of the other respiratory infections, except by laboratory methods.

Vaccination is practiced widely and is the recommended method for prevention. Several types of vaccines are available but the most successful and widely used is the mild live virus vaccine known as the B1 and La Sota types. The vaccines may be used by drops into the nostril or eye, addition to the drinking water or applied in spray form.

Broiler chickens are usually vaccinated when seven to ten days of age. Chickens kept for egg production are usually vaccinated at least three times. The vaccine is given when birds are approximately seven days, again at about four weeks and a third time at about four months of age. Revaccination while in lay is commonly practiced.

Vaccination is not widely used in turkeys. It is used to protect egg producing breeder flocks. One dose of the mild type vaccine is given after selecting breeder birds.

There is no treatment for Newcastle disease. The disease does not always respect even the best management programs, but good “biosecurity” practices will help reduce the possibility of exposure to Newcastle disease virus.

Infectious Bronchitis

Infectious bronchitis is an extremely contagious respiratory disease of chickens characterized by coughing, sneezing and rales (rattling). It is caused by a virus that affects chickens only. Other fowl or laboratory animals cannot be infected with this virus. Several distinct strains of the virus exist.

Infectious bronchitis is considered the most contagious of poultry diseases. When it occurs, all susceptible birds on the premises become infected, regardless of sanitary or quarantine precautions. The disease can spread through the air and can “jump” considerable distances during an active outbreak. It can also be spread by mechanical means such as on clothing, poultry crates and equipment. The disease is not egg transmitted and the virus will survive for probably no more than one week in the house when poultry are not present. It is easily destroyed by heat and ordinary disinfectants.

The infection is confined to the respiratory system. Symptoms are difficult breathing, gasping, sneezing and rales. Some birds may have a slight watery nasal discharge. The disease never causes nervous symptoms. It prevails for ten to fourteen days in a flock and symptoms lasting longer than this are from some other cause.

In chickens under three weeks of age, mortality may be as high as thirty or forty percent. The disease does not cause a significant mortality in birds over five weeks of age. Feed consumption decreases sharply and growth is retarded.

When infectious bronchitis occurs in a laying flock, production usually drops to near zero with a few days. Four weeks or more may be required before the flock returns to production. Some flocks never regain an economical rate of lay. During an outbreak, small, soft-shelled, irregular-shaped eggs are produced.

Infectious bronchitis is difficult to differentiate from many of the other respiratory diseases. For this reason, a definite diagnosis usually requires a laboratory analysis.

Infectious bronchitis is highly contagious and does not always respect sanitary barriers. Vaccinate chickens being retained as layers. Whether broilers should be vaccinated depends upon many factors and is an individual decision. Numerous vaccines are available commercially. Most of them represent a modified or selected strain of the infectious bronchitis virus. The vaccine used should contain virus known to be present in the area. All vaccines contain live virus and those that give the best protection are also capable of producing symptoms and reducing egg production. The vaccine virus will spread to other susceptible birds. Vaccine is usually added to the drinking water, but may be dropped into the eye or nostril or used as a spray.

There is no treatment for this disease. In young chickens it is helpful to increase the brooder temperature and provide as nearly ideal environmental conditions as possible.

Quail Bronchitis

 Quail bronchitis is a contagious, highly fatal disease in young bobwhite quail. The virus causing this disease also infects chickens and turkey. This agent is also known as a CELO (Chick Embryo Lethal Organism) virus. It has been isolated from chicken eggs but does not produce a recognizable disease in chickens or turkeys. This agent may play a part in respiratory diseases and in infertility problems, but its importance must be established by additional research. It is important because it is one of the agents that may be isolated from birds with respiratory symptoms and is difficult to separate from other agents such as infectious bronchitis virus.


Lymphoid Leukosis

Characteristically, lymphoid leukosis is a disease of adult chickens; however, the disease appears to be increasing in importance for turkeys and game birds. Although the virus of lymphoid leukosis can produce various responses (blood, bone, lymph), the lymphoid tumor response is the most common.

The disease is transmitted in a variety of ways. The causative viral agent is passed out of the body of infected birds via eggs and feces. The virus may be transmitted mechanically from infected birds to susceptibles by blood-sucking parasites or by man in such procedures as fowl pox vaccination.

Lymphoid leukosis characteristically produces lymphoid tumors, particularly in the liver and spleen. The tumors may also affect other visceral organs such as ovary and lungs. Affected birds may die without preliminary symptoms, but the disease usually is chronic in nature and affected birds show loss of appetite, progressive emaciation and diarrhea. Clinically affected birds invariably die. Losses due to the disease are most severe shortly after onset of egg production, but losses will continue for as long as the flock is retained. Total loss may approach twenty percent during the life of a flock.

Clinical diagnosis of lymphoid leukosis is based upon flock history and disease manifestations. The lymphoid disease cannot be readily distinguished from the visceral response to Marek’s disease; however, there are some features that aid in differential diagnosis.

There is no treatment for lymphoid leukosis. Although the disease cannot be prevented completely, there are certain steps that can be taken to help control the level of infection within a flock. Some steps are:

· Buy resistant strains of birds since genetic resistance is a deterrent,

· Brood in isolation and do not mix birds of different ages, especially through six weeks of age,

· Keep the incubator clean and disinfected,

· Control blood-sucking parasites,

· Good care, limiting stress, and adequate ration will be of benefit.


Marek’s Disease (Visceral Leukosis)

Marek’s disease is characteristically a disease of young chickens but older birds can also be affected. In contrast to the lymphoid leukosis tumor response, Marek’s disease may be observed in more diverse locations.

Marek’s disease is caused by a virus belonging to the Herpes virus group. Much is known about the transmission of the virus; however, it appears that the virus is concentrated in the feather follicles and shed in the dander (sloughed skin and feather cells). The virus has a long survival time in dander since viable virus can be isolated from houses that have been depopulated for many months.

The usual mode of transmission is by aerosols containing infected dander and dust. Young birds are most susceptible to infection by Marek’s disease; however, since the incubation period is short, clinical symptoms can appear much earlier than in the case with lymphoid leukosis.

Marek’s disease may produce a variety of clinical responses, all lymphoid in character. These are acute visceral, neural, ocular, skin or combinations of the responses that can be seen.

Marek’s of the visceral type is characterized by widespread involvement with lesions commonly seen in gonads, liver, spleen, kidney and occasionally heart, lungs and muscles. The disease is often acute, with apparently healthy birds dying very rapidly with massive internal tumors. The disease may appear in broiler-age birds but the most severe losses occur in replacement pullet flocks prior to onset of egg production.

The neural type of Marek’s is typified by progressive paralysis of the wings, legs and neck. Loss of body weight, anemia, labored respiration and diarrhea are common symptom. If lesions are present, they are confined to the nerve trunks and plexes enervating the paralyzed extremities. Frequently no gross lesions can be observed.

Ocular (eye) leukosis or “gray-eye” is usually seen in early maturity. Morbidity and mortality are usually low but may approach twenty-five percent in some flocks. It is characterized by the spotty depigmentation or diffuse graying of the iris in the eye. The pupil develops an irregular shape and fails to react to light. Emaciation diarrhea and death follow.

Skin leukosis produces the most severe losses in broilers. The losses result from high condemnations at the processing plant. Enlargement of the feather follicles due to accumulations of lymphocytes is the typical lesion. This is the most infective virus since it is produced in the regions of the feather follicles and is shed with the skin dander.

Acute Marek’s disease can be extremely rapid in its course, producing mortality in apparently healthy birds. However, in some cases the lesions may regress and clinically affected birds may make complete recoveries.

Diagnosis is based upon flock history and disease manifestations. Accurate diagnosis may depend on results of laboratory procedures. As is the case with lymphoid leukosis, there is no treatment for Marek’s disease.

A vaccine is available that is extremely effective (90% +) in the prevention of Marek’s disease. It is administered to day-old chickens as a subcutaneous injection while the birds are in the hatchery. Use of the vaccine requires strict accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations in a sterile environment.

Infectious Bursal Disease (Gumboro)

 Infectious bursal disease is an acute, highly contagious viral disease of young chickens. It is most often found in highly concentrated poultry producing areas. It causes marked morbidity and mortality in affected flocks. Although the disease causes severe losses, its affect on reducing the bird’s ability to develop immunity to other diseases may be the most serious effect produced by this disease.

The transmission or spread of the disease can occur by direct contact (bird to bird), contaminated litter and feces, caretaker, contaminated air, equipment, feed, servicemen and possible insects and wild birds. It is extremely contagious.

Birds have ruffled feathers, a slight tremor at onset of the disease, strained defecation, loss of appetite and are dehydrated. Affected birds have a tendency to sit and when forced to move, have an unsteady gait. Vent picking is common and a whitish diarrhea frequently develops. A sudden rise in body temperature is followed by a drop to subnormal temperature, prostration and death. Birds surviving the initial infection will recover rapidly within two weeks.

Postmortem lesions include dehydration and changes in the bursa, skeletal muscle, liver and kidneys. All affected birds have bursal changes characterized by swelling, change in shape (oblong), color (pink, yellow, red, black) and the formation of a gelatinous film around the bursa. Within a few days the bursa shrinks to half its normal size or smaller.

Diagnosis of infectious bursal disease is based on flock history and postmortem lesions. Laboratory procedures may be used to substantiate the diagnosis.

Vaccines are available but must be carefully used. If given correctly, good immunity can be developed. There is no specific treatment for infectious bursal disease and indiscriminate medication with certain drugs may severely aggravate mortality. Supportive measures such as increasing heat, ventilation and water consumption are beneficial.