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Diseases in Poultry and Their Organic Treatment or Natural Remedies

Robert is Agribusiness Consultant who studied Agribusiness Management

Poultry Diseases

Poultry Diseases

Diseases in Poultry and Their Organic Treatment or Natural Remedies

Good chicken husbandry provide good condition that strengthen chickens natural ability to fight against diseases and this minimizes extra cost which might be incurred in poultry production. A disease can spread rapidly among chickens because they are mostly kept together in a cage or chicken house. They also share the same feeders and drinkers, which can spread disease and infections from sick to healthy chickens.

Signs of Sickness in Birds

  1. Dullness
  2. Reduction in feed intake
  3. Reduction in water intake
  4. Low egg production
  5. Reduction in growth rate
  6. Rough feathers of the bird

Poultry can be affected by many types of diseases, and a wide variety of pests (and behavior problems) including those in the list below.

Diseases caused by viruses

  1. Egg drop syndrome (or EDS)
  2. Fowl Pox
  3. Infectious Bronchitis
  4. Infectious Bursal disease (or Gumboro)
  5. Mareks Disease Virus or MDV
  6. Newcastle Disease
  7. Runting/stunting and
  8. Malabsorption syndromes

Diseases caused by mycoplasmas

  1. Mycoplasmosis – MG (Mycoplasma gallisepticum; MG infection; Chronic Respiratory Disease)

Diseases caused by bacteria

  1. Infectious Coryza
  2. Fowl Cholera
  3. Pullorum
  4. Fowl typhoid

Diseases caused by protozoa

  1. Coccidiosis

Diseases caused by internal parasites

  1. Round worms
  2. Caecal worms
  3. Capillary worms
  4. Tape worms

Diseases caused by external parasites

  1. Several types of lice
  2. Stickfast flea
  3. Fowl tick
  4. Several types of mites

Diseases caused by environmental factors

  1. Cannibalism (or aggressive pecking)
  2. Caged Layer Fatigue
  3. Pests
  4. Darkling Beetles


Roundworms, Tapeworms (from snails and slugs)

Causes: Warm, wet conditions and dirty chicken houses
Treatment: Crush fresh garlic in water (1 clove/4ltrs water) or two tablespoons crushed garlic in mash (4 cups pollard or bran with enough yoghurt & water to mix to a damp consistency) for 6 hens

Preventative action: Dry conditions in the chicken house/strawyard is essential.


Single cell protozoa that live in gut encouraged by damp conditions (especially in chicks). Coccidiosis is one of the most common and economically important diseases of chickens worldwide. It is caused by a parasitic organism that damages the host’s intestinal system, causing loss of production, morbidity and death. They attach lining of gut/intestines causing internal bleeding. This disease has a major economic impact on the global poultry industry. Symptoms include dropping mixed with blood, drooping feathers, sleeping during the day
- . Can kill chicks.

Causes: Wet weather/damp bedding.

Treatment: Sulphaquin (antibiotic) for a serious outbreak. Chick starter feeds often have a coccidiostat in the mix.

Preventative action: Make sure bedding is completely dry - replace straw after wet weather. Feed flock fortnightly with the probiotics, garlic/yoghurt/apple cider vinegar in bran/pollard mash.

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Blood suckers that spend their whole life on the chickensk. (Also attach humans)
Causes: Brought in by wild birds or new hens introduced to existing flock.

Treatment: put Olive oil on your hands and arms up to the elbows then check around the vent feathers of chickens for moving greyish dots. Dust the chickens all over (especially under wings) with yellow elemental sulphur (from produce stores and nurseries) and clean out and replace nesting box straw. Put hood (old sock) over hen's head as the sulphur can cause blindness. The oil on your arms should deter the lice invading your skin and giving you an itchy day or two.

Preventative action: Build chickens run with small gauge mesh to prevent sparrows from entering and transferring lice. Sprinkle garden lime/dolomite on the floor before replacing the
clean straw. Make sure chickens have a dry dust bath area to which you can add lime, diatomaceous earth & dried herbs like wormwood, pennyroyal, pyrethrum.

Red mite or Perch mite

Tiny grey insects that go red when engorged with blood. Live in the cracks in the chickens house by day and suck blood from the hens at night. Implicated in the cause of Marek's Disease. Can cause anaemia and death.

Causes: Hot, dry weather. Brought in by wild birds like sparrows attracted to the chicken grain.

Treatment: As they don't live on the chicks see below for treatment and prevention by cleaning
Chicken house.

Preventative action: Scrub or spray chickens house wood with tea tree or eucalyptus oil (1:100 with water) or whitewash the whole chicken house with lime/water slurry and sprinkle the floor with lime. Whitewash the perches GT also or if you live in an area where the turpentine or camphor laurel tree grows, use branches of these as perches after de-barking.

Scaley Leg Mite

Common microscopic scabies-like mite burrows under scales and creates a smelly, crusty discharge and swollen legs eventually causing lameness. Mites can survive up to 30 days in the bedding.

Causes: Brought in by wild birds or new stock that hasn't be quarantined and treated.

Treatment: Soak chicken's legs in a bucket of soapy water with a little ammonia. When softened, scrub gently around the scales on the legs with an old toothbrush or nail brush to remove a lot of the built up detritus. Dry the legs &apply Vicks Vapour Rub or(or similar proprietary chest rub with eucalyptus). May have to repeat every few days.

Preventative action: Build you chick run with small gauge mesh to prevent sparrows from entering and transferring lice. Blue legged chicken breeds seem to be less susceptible than white or yellow-legged chickens.

Mareks Disease

Also known as fowl paralysis, the chicken goes lame on one side then the wing droops, they give up eating and die.Marek's disease is a highly contagious viral neoplastic disease in chickens. Marek's disease is an epidemic in uninfected or unvaccinated flock, causing depression, paralysis, and death in a large number of birds (up to 80%). It currently only organic remedy, though the best method of prevention is by vaccination.

Causes: It is a virus spread by feather dust (possibly by wild birds) and can transfer via the mother into a hatching egg.

Treatment: Nil. Should cull as soon as diagnosed as is a terrible death.

Preventative action: Perhaps excluding wild birds from area using small gauge wire might help prevent an infestation.

Fowl pox

Fowl pox is a relatively slow spreading viral infection that affects most bird species, including all commercial forms of poultry. It occurs in both wet and dry form. The wet form is characterized by plaques in the mouth and upper respiratory tract. The dry form is characterized by wart-like skin lesions that progress to thick scabs. The disease may occur in any age of bird, at any time. Mortality is usually not significant unless the respiratory involvement is severe. Fowl pox can cause depression, reduced appetite and poor growth or egg production. The course of the disease in the individual bird takes three to five weeks. Infection occurs through skin abrasions or bites, through the respiratory route and possibly through ingestion of infective scabs. It can be transmitted by birds, mosquitoes or fomites (inanimate objects such as equipment). The virus is highly resistant in dried scabs and under certain conditions may survive for months. Mosquitoes can harbor infectious virus for a month or more after feeding on infected birds and can subsequently infect other birds. Recovered birds do not remain carriers. A flock may be affected for several months as fowl pox spreads slowly. As mosquitoes are known reservoirs, mosquito control procedures may be of some benefit in limiting spread in poultry pens

Newcastle disease

Signs of Newcastle disease – conjunctivitis, depression and neurological signs Newcastle disease is a highly contagious viral infection that affects many species of domestic and wild birds to varying degrees. The disease can result in digestive, respiratory and/or nervous clinical signs, which range from a mild, almost in apparent respiratory disease to very severe depression, drop in egg production, increased respiration, profuse diarrhea followed by collapse, or long-term nervous signs such as twisted necks if the birds survive. Severe forms of the disease are highly fatal. Spread is usually by direct physical contact with infected or diseased birds. The virus is present in manure and is breathed out into the air.

Infectious bronchitis (IB)

IB is an acute and highly contagious respiratory disease of chickens. The disease is caused by avian infectious bronchitis virus(IBV), and characterized by respiratory signs including gasping, coughing, sneezing, tracheal rales, and nasal discharge. In young chickens, severe respiratory distress may occur. In layers, respiratory distress, nephritis, drastic decrease in egg production, and loss of internal (watery egg white) and external (fragile, soft, irregular or rough shells, shell-less) egg quality will be seen.

Infectious coryza

Infectious coryza is a serious bacterial disease of chickens which affects respiratory system and it is manifested by inflammation of the area below the eye, nasal discharge and sneezing The swelling can cause closure of one eye or both of them. Economic loss is simply lower egg production in case of layers and stumping of birds

Fowl Cholera

It is a serious, highly contagious disease caused by bacteria. The route of infection is oral or nasal with transmission via nasal discharge, faeces, contaminated soil, equipment, and people. Symptoms include; Ruffled feathers ,Loss of appetite ,Diarrhea  ,Coughing Nasal, ocular and oral discharge. Swollen and cyanotic wattles and face, death, Swollen joint, Lameness. Commonly observed signs are anorexia, ruffled feathers, oral and nasal mucus discharge, and white or greenish watery mucoid diarrhea

Other Poultry Problems and Bad Habits

Egg Bound

Eggs get stuck in the lower oviduct. Chickens praters and keeps squatting trying unsuccessfully to lay egg

Causes: Can be hereditary.

Treatment: Oil the vent with vegetable oil and hold over a steam bath to loosen vent. Gently guide the egg externally with fingers till it appears in vent, then gently ease out. If unsuccessful, insert oiled index finger into vent, find egg and break it gently to remove every bit of shell. Squirt 10mls olive oil into vent, and isolate chicken in a warm box to recover. Chicken can die if all of egg is not removed.

Preventative action: Avoid breeding from a chicken that has this problem.


Causes: Fighting within the hierarchy. Dog/fox/cat attack.

Treatment: A few drops in an eyedropper of Homeopathic Arnica and Rescue Remedy (Bach Flower Essences) internally. Bathe wound with Calendula and Hypericum tea. Isolate in warm box with garlic/Vitamin C in water.

Preventative action: Provide safe, predator proof housing and don't overstock. (20 chickens is the max. for one group)


Moping, diarrhoea, convulsions, loss of mobility, paralysis and sudden death are symptoms.

Causes: Chickens have browsed on poisonous plants in garden or eaten rotten food scraps.

Treatment: Can try dosing with Homeopathic Nux Vomica. Otherwise no treatment.

Preventative action: Avoid growing poisonous plants like: rhubarb leaves, deadly nightshade (solanum nigrum - henbane), potato seed balls, oleander, lily of the valley, hemlock and green
potatoes. Botulism also kills chickens and is caused by rotting food scraps. Always clean up uneaten food stuffs and hang food in a wire basket to keep it clean.

Egg Eating

Causes: Accidental breakage due to too many eggs in the nesting box. Possibly due to throwing used eggshells into the chickens yard. Sometimes chickens are looking for more protein also.

Treatment: Cull the offending birds (if you can find it). Increase the green pick and protein levels in the diet in case of deficiencies.

Feather picking

Causes: Boredom and stress. Can ultimately lead to cannibalism.

Treatment: Cull the offender

Egg drop syndrome

The only signs of egg drop syndrome appear in the eggs. Laying hens who outwardly appear healthy will begin producing eggs that either lack shells or have too-thin ones. Some hens might experience diarrhea shortly before thin-shelled eggs start appearing. Egg drop syndrome can pass from asymptomatic hens to their otherwise healthy chicks, the chicks spreading the virus in their stool. While no treatment exists for egg drop syndrome, a hen will usually resume quality egg production after she has undergone molting

Caged layer fatigue

Always feed your laying hen nutritious feed that is specially prepared for laying hens. This is not only helpful for better egg production but also help to keep your hens healthy. Many diseases affect the flock due to nutritional imbalances in homemade cheap feed.Especially laying hens suffers much due to lack of proper amount of phosphorus and calcium ratio. If you notice any hen which is alert but unable to move, then she might be suffering from caged layer fatigue. If not treated timely, she might die by dehydration. Move the affected birds to another cage and supply her fresh water and quality feed. If you use cheap, low quality homemade feed, replace it as soon as possible and serve quality feed. This will help you avoiding further instances of diseases in your flock. Raising you flock in free range system can be helpful for preventing the disease


Your laying hens can be affected by rickets disease due to lack of vitamin D or proper ratio of calcium and phosphorus in their regular feed. Soft and bowed bones, thin shelled eggs, lameness, fractured limbs, low egg production etc. are all symptoms of this disease. If you feed your flock commercially prepared layer feed, then chances of getting affected by rickets disease is less. Because most of these commercial layer feed contain proper ratio of all necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals

Egg peritonitis

If the peritoneum or abdominal lining get infected and inflamed, then Egg peritonitis might occur in your laying hen. Usually this occurs because a yolk did not head out the oviduct of your laying hen as it should and went into the abdominal cavity. swollen abdomen is the symptoms of Egg peritonitis. You can use a strong combination of habanero pepper, mint leaf, ginger and black pepper. It will fight with the infection and drain the abdomen. But in most cases, the laying hens die that is affected by egg peritonitis if not noticed on time

Fatty Liver Syndrome

Fatty liver syndrome occurs through accumulating too much fat in the liver of a hen. Hemorrhaging and death are the symptoms of this disease. Hens have pale combs which is affected by fatty liver syndrome. Feeds containing too much carbohydrates can result much fat in your laying hens. Decrease the amount of carbohydrates in their feed and slightly change their feeding habit. The chickens that are raised in cage method system, are affected much by this disease. On the other hand, free range chickens suffers less by this disease.

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