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Animal Sciences and Industry

Sanitation and Disease

1. What causes adult birds to pull out their feathers?
A common cause of feather pecking (pulling) is an infestation of the depluming mite. This mite causes severe irritation by borrowing into the skin near the base of the feathers, and frequently causes feathers to be pulled out or broken. This mite, which is barely visible to the naked eye, can be found in the follicles at the base of the feather.

Individual treatment consists of dipping infested birds in a warm sulfur solution (2 oz. sulfur + 1 oz. of soap in 1 gal. water). Of course, the birds may simply be molting.

2. What causes mature chickens to become extremely emaciated and droopy, having greenish droppings, and then die?
One possible cause is a disease called avian leukosis which is a disease problem in multi-aged flocks. It affects birds in two ways: 1) enlargement of the visceral organs (liver, spleen), hence the name big liver disease, and 2) enlarged or thickened legs. Ref. O. Sanitation Disease – "A Manual of Poultry Diseases", p. 25.

Another possibility is avian tuberculosis. Main symptoms of this disease are gradual loss of weight and rough nodules developing on the liver. Avain turberculosis mainly occurs in birds several years old, thus is rarely a problem in most flocks.

3. What causes the footpad and/or top of the foot of a chicken to swell?
A common name for this condition is "bumble foot". It is usually caused by two things: 1) presence of a certain type of bacteria (staphlaccocus) and 2) injury to the foot such as jumping off the roost and hitting a sharp object. The condition responds very poorly to drugs. The best treatment is to remove the birds showing the condition or to open the wound and treat with an antibiotic salve effective against staphlaccocus organisms, such as the type used to treat cow’s udders for mastitis.

4. What is a good treatment for removing toxins, organisms or poisons from the intestinal tract of poultry?
"Flush" or cleanse the bird’s intestines by administering a mixture of 1 pint of black strap molasses in 5 gallons of drinking water for 24 hours, followed with 2-3 days of the antibiotics oxytetracycline or neomycin in the water at 200-400 mg./gal.

5. What causes a foul smelling infection of the vent of birds?
This is caused by a venereal disease (vent gland) which is transmitted from bird to bird by contact. The preventative measure is to dispose of the infected birds. A treatment is to swab the vent every third day with 3% chromic acid solution or daily application of a chloroseptic solution.

6. What is the recommended usage level of blue vitrol (potassium permanganate) as a water sanitizer?
Use a level teaspoon of potassium permanganate in 10 gal. of water. Put the solution in clay crocks because it is very corrosive to metal. When the water turns from a clear wine color to brown, it has lost its germicidal value. This is an old fashioned remedy.

7. What is a recommended vaccination program for small flocks?
We don’t recommend vaccinating for laryngotrachietis unless the disease has been a problem on your farm or is prevalent in the area. Vaccinate young stock at 10 days of age with a mild, nonspreading form of vaccine, if the disease is on your farm or vaccinate at 4 weeks of age for prevention. Repeat at 16-20 weeks of age. This will hold the flock for a year. Vaccinate immediately if an outbreak occurs.

For prevention of fowl pox, use a mild vaccine on day-old chicks and laying birds and a stronger vaccine for growing birds. For Newcastle and infectious bronchitis disease, vaccinate at 7-10 days, 5 weeks and 30 days prior to egg production with B-1 strain of Newcastle and mixed bronchitis vaccines.

Don’t be concerned about Marek’s disease unless you are losing a lot of birds from the disease. Vaccine for this disease is administered at day-old and if you are purchasing chicks, it’s worth paying a little more to vaccinate them.

Ref. O. Sanitation - Disease – "A Manual of Poultry Diseases", p. 20, 24.

8. What could cause my chicken to labor (rattle) when they breathe and have darkened combs and wattles?
A common cause of this condition is a disease condition called chronic respiratory disease (CRD, MG, or Mycoplasmosis). This disease organism, which is very common in small flocks, is usually not fatal but reduces the level of health and productivity of the flock. It also causes infectious sinusitis in turkeys. A suggested treatment is the drug

Tylan at 2-3 g./gal. of water for 3-5 days. Ref. O. Sanitation - Disease – "A Manual of Poultry Diseases", p. 21 and "Suggested treatments of Chickens and Turkeys", p. 1.

9. Can chlorine be used to sanitize drinking water for poultry?
Yes. Make a stock solution by adding 1-12 oz. of a 12-15% concentration sodium hypochloride product (such as household bleach) to 1 gallon of water. Add 1 ounce of stock solution to 1 gallon of drinking water. This will provide 3-5 ppm of chlorine. Chlorine loses its germicidal ability very quickly in the presence of organic matter, thus the water would be changed daily.

10. What causes the formation of swollen, heavily encrusted and deformed legs in birds?
Most likely it is an infestation of the scaly-leg mite. This mite is more commonly found in older birds and particularly on those that are kept in crowded pens in so-called backyard flocks. They burrow into the skin causing local irritation. Isolate infested birds and dip their feet and legs in light oil. Be careful not to get oil on feathers or skin or upper part of legs. Repeat treatment in a month if infestation persists.

11. Where may I obtain information about the National Poultry Improvement Program (NPIP) in Kansas?
The Kansas Poultry Association
Dr. R. Scott Beyer
130 Call Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS 66506-1600
PH: 785-532-1201
FX: 785-532-5681