Prevention & Control of Poultry Diseases

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Prevention  & Control of  Poultry Diseases

Prevention and control of poultry diseases is one of the most important factor for the profitability of poultry farming business. This prime fact provides a brief overview of the importance of knowing your cost of production, and benchmarking to monitor business profitability plus how to use financial ratios to gauge future viability. Following basic factors should be kept in mind for preventing and controlling of poultry diseases.

Diseases of Poultry

The two most serious poultry diseases that must be kept out of poultry flocks are Newcastle disease and avian influenza. Although these two devastating diseases are not present in commercial poultry in Australia, the poultry industry is at risk from their introduction. The compulsory vaccination program against Newcastle disease (ND) has helped protect the industry against both endemic and exotic  ND. Occasionally diseases occur in Australian poultry flocks. Some are controlled by vaccination or medication strategies. Others are controlled by keeping them out of farms.


Diseases which are controlled by vaccination include:

  • Infectious laryngotracheitis
  • Coryza
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Fowl pox
  • Fowl cholera
  • Newcastle disease
  • Egg drop syndrome 76 (EDS 76)
  • Infectious bronchitis
  • Avian encephalomyelitis


Some diseases can be controlled by both vaccination and keeping them out of farms. These include coryza; chronic respiratory disease, caused by Mycoplasma gallisepticum; infectious laryngotracheitis; lice and mite infestations; chlamydiosis; blackhead; and internal parasites.


How to Keep Diseases Out: Disease can enter your farm via carrier birds, people, wild birds, day-old chickens, equipment, wind, pets and insects.


Birds:  Apparently healthy birds carrying a disease organism can be a source of infection of other birds. If disease-carrying started pullets are introduced onto an uninfected farm they can spread disease. Backyard, show and aviary birds can also carry disease.


Prevention: Do not keep backyard, aviary, show birds or other birds such as emus on commercial poultry farms. Make sure that you, your employees and visitors to your sheds have not had any contact with these birds. Do not keep domestic ducks on poultry farms, other than duck farms. Purchase your started  pullets from reputable suppliers where the disease status is known.


People: People are probably the second most common carrier of poultry diseases. Disease can be carried  on footwear, hands, clothing and possibly in the nostrils. Visitors from overseas could spread exotic diseases. Poultry producers, family or staff members can bring disease back onto farms.


Prevention: Do not allow people onto your farm unless they have some essential task to perform. To safeguard the health of your flocks, make sure that contract work crews, service people and veterinarians who enter sheds take stringent precautions such as washing their hands and changing their overalls and shoes before entering your sheds. This applies particularly to visitors who have been on other  poultry farms that day. The poultry farm should be surrounded by a security fence and have a single gateway fitted with a ‘Restricted Access’ sign. Do not allow people who are picking up eggs, or sales and feed delivery  personnel, to enter sheds. If your birds are kept on the floor there is a risk of spreading disease if you wear the same pair of boots into different sheds. Keep a separate set of boots for wearing in  each shed and store them in a receptacle outside the door.


Wild Birds: A  surveys in Australia indicate that a very small percentage of waterfowl are infected with avian influenza (AI) viruses. The H5N1 AI virus which is currently causing problems around the world has not been found in Australia. Water carrying these viruses is thought to be responsible for some  avian influenza outbreaks. Pigeons contaminating feed in the United Kingdom in 1984 caused 23 cases of Newcastle disease. Carrion-eating birds such as crows can spread disease in free-range enterprises. Wild birds can also spread external parasites.


Prevention: Great effort is warranted to make sure that wild birds, especially waterfowl, cannot enter sheds. Bird-proof your sheds, and shut the doors when the sheds are not being attended. Install plastic hanging strips to deter birds while the sheds are being used. Discourage waterfowl from coming close to sheds by cleaning up feed spillages promptly and draining wet areas near sheds. Make sure that water for drinking and fogging is not contaminated by free-flying birds. Chlorination or ultraviolet treatment is recommended for all dam or river water and this should be combined with suitable water filtration. Make sure that all water tanks are covered adequately and that feed is not  contaminated by wild birds, animals or vermin.


Day-Old Chickens: Egg-borne disease can be transmitted from the infected hen to the day-old chicken via the fertile  egg. Two examples are:

  • Chronic respiratory disease, caused by Mycoplasma gallisepticum;
  • Infectious synovitis, caused by Mycoplasma synoviae.


Prevention: Day-old chickens can be bought free of M. gallisepticum. Please study  the literatures about the  advantages and disadvantages of buying disease-free chickens ,which available on


Equipment: Diseases can be introduced on equipment which is shared between farms. Poultry crates and fibrous egg flats can be transmitters of disease organisms. Avian influenza, EDS 76, Newcastle  disease and northern fowl mite, among others, can be transmitted from farm to farm on egg flats.


Prevention: Do not share equipment between farms and do not use second-hand egg fillers.


Wind Spread: Some diseases, particularly respiratory diseases, can be blown in the air from one farm to another. This commonly occurs at night or on cloudy days when the sun’s ultraviolet radiation is not present to kill the infective agent. There is evidence that chronic respiratory disease, Mycoplasma   gallisepticum, avian influenza and Newcastle disease may be spread this way.


Prevention: Keep poultry farms as far apart as possible if you are setting up a new farm. Sheds should also be  built as far from the road as possible. Trees growing between farms and between the farm and the road will break up wind movements.


Pets: Dogs and cats can carry infectious material on their feet and coats and can put your birds at risk if they visit neighbouring farms or dead-bird-disposal areas.


Prevention: Secure your poultry sheds against the entry of dogs and cats. Keep the doors closed when your  sheds are not being serviced.


Insects: Mosquitoes can transmit fowl pox, and flies can spread some species of tapeworm, Newcastle disease and salmonella.


Prevention: Vaccinate all birds against fowl pox if mosquitoes are a problem, and reduce the number of flies.


How to stop diseases spreading: The following procedures won’t stop diseases getting into farms, but they will stop them spreading and reduce their severity:

  • Ensure all birds are correctly vaccinated and medicated. Follow a suitable vaccination regimen for the diseases that occur in your area. Use and care for your vaccines as directed on the label. Preventative medications (for example coccidiostats) may be necessary for some conditions. Vaccination against Newcastle disease is compulsory in NSW and most  other states.
  • Have one age of bird per farm. Having one age of bird per farm allows any acquired diseases  to be eradicated. Make sure that incoming started pullets and day-old chickens are free of disease and that strict quarantine procedures are in place on the farm. After the batch of birds is sold, clean the sheds and equipment thoroughly and allow 2 weeks (the depopulation period) before bringing in the next batch.
  • Use all-in all-out sheds. If it is not practical to have only one age of bird on the farm, reduce the number of age groups to a minimum. If you have fewer age groups than sheds (for example if you have four sheds and three age groups), try to have the same age group in the sheds that are closest together. Egg packers and other workers should preferably be allocated specific sheds to work in. If this is not possible and they have to go into all the sheds, the general direction of movement should be from the youngest birds to the oldest
  • Dispose of dead birds properly. Dead birds should be quickly burnt, deeply buried or effectively composted and should never be fed to cats or dogs. Dead birds left lying around the farm can spread disease to other sheds and neighbouring farms via carrion-eating birds,dogs, cats and rats. Recapture escaped birds. Recapture escaped birds quickly. If a bird has been free for an undetermined length of time and has got out of the shed, it should not be returned to the main flock. The bird-proofing recommended to stop wild birds getting into your sheds will also stop escaped birds from getting out.
  • Inspect your farm daily. Finally, inspect your sheds daily so that any problems can be identified early and rectified quickly. This will minimise the degree of poultry diseases challenge.
October 4, 2016
This piece is quite exhaustive and highly commendable. Kudos!
Dr Kibiike David Dr Kibiike David
Bachlor. Veterinary Medicine
October 10, 2016

The other way of insuring that you control disease transmission is by making the space between one batch and the other is not less than 20 meters. This can help you to contain any infection in one place if it comes.

or dip litter system you may need to do regular disinfection with a mild disinfectant even if the birds are in the house, this helps to reduces on the microbial challenges to the bird.

October 10, 2016

Several factors are involved in prevention and control of poultry diseases including: 1st is biosecurity, 2nd vaccination programme and application, 3rd nutrition, 4th management, 5th selection of day old chicken quality, 6th reporting and evaluation of each production cycle.

October 10, 2016
The main factor in prevention of poultry diseses is the farm biosecurity plus proper disinfection of the poultry farm after each cycle with the proper disinfectants , and the proper vaccination program based on the epidemiological data of the the most frequent disease ocurrence which differ from one place to another .
Dr. Altaf Gohar Siddiqui Dr. Altaf Gohar Siddiqui
Veterinary Doctor
October 11, 2016

An adequate disease prevention program is essential to a profitable commercial poultry operation. Chronic diseases can reduce efficiency and increase costs. Although a disease prevention program may not show immediate returns on the investment, it will be profitable in the long term.
Poor sanitation also can cause disease problems. Once a site is contaminated, carryover from previously infected flocks may become a reoccurring problem.
Proper security measures can greatly reduce the chance of disease outbreaks. Use disinfectant foot baths or wear plastic foot-coverings when entering buildings. Change foot baths often to keep them effective. If you use equipment for more than one flock, wash and disinfect it before introducing another flock or using it in another building.
Disease outbreaks are influenced by the general condition of the flock. Conditions caused by poor management can reduce the flock's resistance to infection.
Only bring in poultry from disease-free flocks. Secure your facilities from wild birds. Don't keep pet birds on the premises, and avoid contact with other flocks.
Practice "all in, all out" with flocks whenever possible. Thorough cleaning and disinfecting between flocks will help reduce outbreaks. Include a period of down time (two weeks minimum) in your flock schedule. Removal of built-up litter may be necessary if a disease outbreak has occurred.
Maintain proper management techniques that do not stress the birds. Good ventilation, dry litter and proper temperatures will provide conditions conducive to good health.
Follow an approved vaccination program.

October 11, 2016
Thank you very much for this nice piece. I also thank all those who have contributed thus far.
Believe me, the issue surrounding the prevention and control of poultry diseases depends on a number of things which include but not limited to the following:
*the bird type: there is no way you can compare a broiler and a quail in disease resistivity. Quails are generally hardy and can withstand most diseases. In fact, many quail farms I have seen do not even use foot dip (the simplest means of biosecurity). Also, only a few give lasota vaccine to their quails with the reason that quails are hardy. You know you cannot try this in broiler production.
*the environment: while a farmer who is in a disease prone area battle with diseases, another farmer who has no disease in his area relaxes and spends less on drugs and vaccination.
*the type of disease: this is particularly important as it tells you how to work on your vaccination programme.
*the nutrition of the flock: when your birds have a balanced diet, their immune system is enhanced but will be easily attacked by diseases when their immunity level is low.
On prevention, the farmer should work on the following:
*Quality of the young stock.
*Fresh and clean water.
*Constant evacuation of the dropoings.
*Et cetera.

Thank you!
nader ghaleh golab behbahan nader ghaleh golab behbahan
Assistant Prof.
October 23, 2016
Dear all Colleagues
All comments are valuable, I have a question about controlling of NDV when it strikes a broiler farm over than 100,000 and the vaccination program had included B1+ inactivated NDV. the age of flock is 24 day old and the virus is VVNDV.
October 24, 2016
This chapter in itself can be published as a book for poultry veterinarians, technicians and students. It is a very complex topic which includes most aspects of poultry production and health. Each country has its own epidemiological situations and microclimatic conditions. Thus it is good to share the experience and knowledge of each one of us on the subject.
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