Wed. Sep 23rd, 2020

Supporting Farmers

10 Poultry Health Habits For Success |

10 min read

As the world revolves and the sun sets,Mkulima sits facing his wife’s kitchen garden, wondering what he could do to improve the production on his poultry farm.

At this point he picks his phone and visits to search for information on health how to keep his flock healthy.

This is the platform where he gets all his free consultation services with ease.

To avoid any losses on the farm health and hygene is key to the success of any poultry farm.

1.Have an isolation/quarantine area

Ensure your farm has a separate barn or separate room in your barn, ideally with a separate entrance, that can be used as an isolation and quarantine area.

Isolation of birds will help you not only in controlling the spread of diseases, but also in treating of the sick in the flock.

Under normal conditions I will recommend you isolate new birds for a period of 14 days.

This isolation method is risky since some birds may be carries of some diseses.

I recommend and isolation period of 30 days before introducing them to your existing flock. The 30 days period will give you a clear picture of the birds health and wellbeing.

Quickly isolate any sick birds and put them into the quarantine area to limit the spread of disease to other birds. This also gives you ease of managing the diseases.

Keep all your sick birds in isolation or quarantine for a period of not less than two weeks.

After they have stopped showing signs of illness then you can keep them in a holding room for monitoring before reintroducing the m to the flock.

2.Inspect your flock daily

Don’t be a telephone farmer.Be a hands on  person this will help you sort issues as soon as they happen.

Being hands on will also boost your farms production in the long run.

Don’t use apps to run your farm all they do is take up space on your mobile device.

You should only use them for data that you intend to use to boost production.

Healthy birds will move out of the way when you enter the barn or come towards the door in a move to indicate they want to explore.

 Assess if feed and water consumption each day is what you would expect for the number and type of birds you have.

This is a sure way to gauge if there is an issue.

Assess the attitude of the flock; all birds should be active, bright and alert. Examine any individuals that seem depressed or dull, and separate them from the rest of the flock for treatment as soon as possible and to prevent illness from spreading to healthy birds.

Sick birds are unlikely to eat their feed, and are more likely to stay in one spot, looking depressed and sleepy.

Contact your veterinarian or the Animal Health Unit if you see an increase in death rate,

  • unusual behavior,
  • unexpected decreases in feed consumption or
  • Egg production.

3. Disinfecting is different than cleaning

Your barn should be cleaned regularly.

Remember there is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting.

You should do this before introducing a new group of birds to the chicken house.

 Disinfectants are chemicals that destroy or inactivate bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Not all disinfectants have the same effectiveness, but if used properly most will kill the potentially harmful bugs in your barn.

You can rotate the types of disinfectant you use to ensure efficiency against hardy micro-organisms.

A common disinfectant is a 10% bleach solution which is effective against a wide range of bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

If this is unavailable feel free to contact your nearest vet officer.

Thoroughly clean the house before commencing the process of disinfection.

You should remember that disinfectants cannot kill bacteria until all the organic materials (feces, litter, mud, feathers) have been washed away.

You can as well use readily available resources to cut production costs on the farm.

Most soaps work as both a cleanser and a disinfectant, so cleaning with soap and water is essential.

4.Clean your barns regularly

The best routine is to clean at least once a day.

Cleaning daily reduces the time required to complete the reproductive cycle of the disease causing micro-organisms.

Clean your poultry house regularly and remove organic materials (feces, litter, mud, wet bedding) from the house on a regular basis.

 Check the area around feeders and drinkers daily, and remove soiled, wet, or packed bedding. Wet bedding can lead to fungal growth that can cause pneumonia.

At all times before introducing a new flock to your barn and before closing up the barn for a long period without use, wash all surfaces with warm soapy water and rinse to clean away organic materials.

Once the surface looks clean, spray the surfaces with a disinfectant such as 10% bleach water.

You can also buy industrial disinfectants to get the job done.

5. Have a “clean period” between flocks

This is called an “all-in, all-out” system and is good for the control against diseases.

 To reduce the chance of introducing disease, do not add new birds to an existing flock—treat each flock as a separate group, and replace the entire flock at the same time.

 When a flock is sold or culled for any reason, and before you introduce a new flock to the property,

  • wash surfaces of  the room with soap and water,
  • disinfect the surfaces with a disinfectant such as 10% bleach water, and
  • allow time for the surfaces to thoroughly air-dry (3–5 days up to 2 weeks).

6. Change food and water every day and keep feed and water containers clean

Check that your birds are eating all of the feed you provide each day, and adjust the amount you are feeding so all food in the feeders is eaten by the end of the day.

Leaving food and water from the previous day can be way to spread diseases in the poultry house.

Do not add fresh feed to feeders that are caked with old food and/or feces without cleaning the feeders first.

 Wash and disinfect drinkers regularly (i.e. on a weekly basis, or more frequently).

Always provide plenty of fresh water for your birds. 

7. Feed the right food

Just like you and I chicken require high quality feeds to help in their growth.

Poultry have unique diet requirements, and the correct diet for poultry depends on the age of birds and the stage of production.

Ensure that you are feeding the appropriate diet for the types of birds you are raising and conform to their age.

Proper diet is important, and correct calcium/phosphorus balance in feed is essential for growing birds and layers.

 Provide green feed/vegetable scraps for your birds to ensure they get adequate vitamin A.

Ensure that your birds are getting the appropriate mineral supplements in their feed. Grains must be balanced with minerals and supplements.

Always provide abundant fresh water for your birds.

If you cannot have the birds outside to receive vitamin D from the sun remember to provide a substitute.

This prevents the chicken from getting diseases like rickets that in time can lead to infections like arthritis.

8. Slaughter your birds with care

Without much care, you will not be able to generate the desired income from your venture.

This is as a result of the high health standards that must be maintained.

Keeping the public healthy must always be a priority before profits.

Designate a site for slaughter and processing poultry that is clean, well-drained, and free of pests and trash.

Separate your processing site into one area for

  • killing,
  • scalding, and
  • plucking;

a second area for evisceration; and another area for chilling and final packaging. 

People who are processing poultry should wash their hands often during processing and wear clean clothes and boots.

Smoking, eating, and drinking should be done in a different area away from the processing site.

Prevent contamination of equipment and carcasses through attention to cleaning and sanitation of equipment, and by only processing healthy birds.

Keep the processed chicken meat in a freezer at 4°C within 4–6 hours after processing.

 The larger the bird, the longer it will take to cool.

 9. Do not let wildlife near your birds

Like the strict bio security measures, this is your first line against viral diseases.

You can control humans and their behaviors but I cannot say the same for wild birds.

Wild birds can carry diseases that will make your birds sick (such as avian influenza and Newcastle’s disease).

Make sure that all chicken houses are completely closed off to wild birds.

Use fences and electric fence outriggers to keep predators away from your flock, and chicken wire to keep your flock in a designated area.

Remember chicken wire will keep poultry in, but it will not keep predators out.

Keep grass around the outside of the poultry area short to deter predators like cats that could hide in tall forage, and feed the mowed grass/weeds to your birds.

10. Keep good records

The only sure way to know the health of your agribusiness venture is through keeping high quality records.

Records on flock health allow you to better understand or recognize changes in your flock.

The basics of record keeping starts with keeping records on:

  • How many birds you have
  • Where they came from
  • When new birds are introduced and
  • their source flock
  • How many die each week
  • How many eggs are produced each day
  • Who you have sold birds or products to  and
  • Any visitors to your barns, for tracking movements in case of a disease outbreak


You as a flock owner you are legally required to notify government authorities about serious bird diseases like influenza to help prevent spread.

You can meet this obligation by contacting the Animal Health Unit for advice if you suspect any serious infection.

If having any doubts reach out to MkulimaTODAY and we will be available to help you out.

Having an agribusiness question? Do you know of a successful agribusiness venture or story that you wish to share? I would like to hear from you. Send me the TIP(s) at

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