As part of the health programme for your chickens, there are inoculations that should have been done before you bought them. Likewise, which you should administer to your chicks before you sell them on. These are for Newcastle Disease, Marek’s Disease and Gumboro. Some can be administered as a spray, or through the birds’ drinking water.
According to the Poultry Club of South Africa, this is the programme that you should follow:
Day 1: Subcutaneous injection against Marek’s Disease; Spray or pellet (IB/ND Hitchner B1 against Newcastle Disease and Infectious Bronchitis;
Day 7: subcutaneous injection ND-IB-MG (Mycoplasma) (0.1ml) against Infectious Bronchitis virus, (Massachusetts type) and Newcastle Disease virus.
Week 3: in the water, against Gumboro;
Week 4: in the water, against IB H120 and Gumboro;
Week 6: spray ND la Sota against Newcastle’s disease;
Week 7: another ND-IB-MG (Mycoplasma) (0.1ml);
Week 8: wing web injection against pox; In the water against worms;
Week 12: eye drop against Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT);
Week 14: spray IB/ND Hitchner B1 against Newcastle Disease and Infectious Bronchitis.
These inoculations as part of your health programme for chickens are important as the diseases are highly infectious and, in the case of Newcastle Disease, notifiable. This means that you are bound by law to report it to your nearest State Veterinarian if an outbreak occurs in your flock. The authorities may destroy your flock as a result.
Those diseases apart, your main threats are injury, parasites, respiratory infections, coccidiosis and problems associated with the egg laying process.
You will recognise that something is amiss in most cases by a daily inspection of your flock. A sure sign that something is wrong is when the birds stand motionless and hunched over, with their feathers fluffed out and eyes half closed. Other signs of disease are coughing or a soiled vent (anus) and watery stool.
In the case of disease or injury move the affected bird or birds out of the flock to try to prevent spread of the infection or further harm. Keep them warm and quiet in a safe place until you make a firm diagnosis and treatment can commence.