Keep your chickens healthy
16 September 2020 | Agriculture
Poultry farmers are advised to prevent the spread of diseases on their farms in order to ensure a sustainable income stream.
This is according to Hanks Saisai, Agribank's technical advisor for crops and poultry.
He said illnesses such as Newcastle disease can be spread by humans or other poultry, leading to a costly outbreak.
“In most cases, disease outbreaks can lead to a decrease in production for a poultry farmer and ultimately have a negative impact on the enterprise as a result of a significant loss of income.”
According to him, one of the easiest ways to spread a disease such as Newcastle is by people entering a poultry farm without adequate disinfection.
“Visitors could be carrying disease causing pathogens on the soles of their shoes and bodies.”
Saisai said once in a poultry house, the pathogens may end up in water or feed containers and as soon as contaminated feed or water is ingested by poultry, the disease will spread.
Poultry transmission often occurs when a farmer brings new chicks or mature birds that happen to be infected by the disease into a healthy flock.
“For instance, birds are infected with the Newcastle disease, the feed and water easily become contaminated, the disease spreads among other birds. This enables the disease to spread with ease amongst the flock.
Saisai said disease outbreak can really harm a farmer's income when its impact causes production to come to a standstill.
“When production is interrupted, a farmer will not only lose income, but will also be at risk of losing an established share in the market as there are a lot of emerging producers in this agribusiness.”
The best preventive measures to combat the spread of diseases caused by human transmission are to restrict access to poultry houses by fencing off the area around the poultry facilities.
People who are allowed access to poultry houses should not have been to any other poultry enterprises without being disinfected upon return.
Other measures are to provide clean clothing and footwear to anyone entering the poultry house, to assign at least one employee per poultry house and to ensure that they always visit the house with protective clothing.
The best preventive measures to combat the spread of diseases caused by poultry transmission are to maintain daily hygienic conditions of the water and feed containers and to ensure that the drinking water is also replaced daily.
When sourcing poultry, farmers are advised to buy from reputable suppliers, Saisai said.
Other measures are to ensure that the hatchery has fully vaccinated chicks and farmers should vaccinate the chicks again at the ages of seven, 14 and 21 days old.
Farmers should also cover all air vents and openings on the poultry house with narrow-mesh wire screens to keep out wild birds and rodents, isolate sick chickens from healthy ones, and in case of death, carcasses should be destroyed by burning them.