Mon. Sep 21st, 2020

Supporting Farmers

7 Common signs of diseases in

5 min read

It is yet another day on the farm.Mkulima  has just finished taking his breakfast and waves the wife good bye as she goes past heir farms, newly built dark blue metallic gate, on the way to the market.

On the ground is a piece of paper that Mkulima had picked from the seminar organized by the MkulimaTODAY franchise in their community, earlier in the week.

As his youngest son opens  the chicken house ,he sits down , next to the cow shed to go through the training and jog his memeory.

As he settles on his seat he starts  to recall all that they were taught by the experts.

Signs of a sick hen

Recognizing signs of diseases early enough in your flock, is one of the ways to fight losses.

1.Skin, Feathers, Beak, Legs

 One of the visible signs that you will notice is, the feathers of  the sick hen will be ruffled, misplaced or damaged.

If you are keen you will notice the hen scratching constantly.

Incase on an injury recent wounds will be red, open and oozing.

You will notice that any older wounds may become enlarged, crusty, and scab-like due to constant exposure to the elements.

2.Bones,joints or muscles

There will be a clear selling or enlargement of the  hocks and joints.

You can easily identify thickened bones. The catch with this is that you will require to be more keen or have  a trained eye to enable you pick this up with ease.

Most of the time the sick hen will be reluctant to walk as a result of  pain.

The bird spends most of its time sitting on hocks or with one leg lifted up constantly.

Birds suffering from this signs most of the time remain alert and watchful but will be lying down most of the time.

The other common sign is the bird will have stretched wings as if to use them for support.

3. Respiratory infections

Birds suffering from resoiratory infections  may or may not have an  open gaping beaks (“mouth breathing”).

Sometimes you will notice a cough from the sick bird but it is not all the time.

The other common sign of respiratory infection is snicking during breathing.

I have noticed birds are normaly dull and depressed.Most of the sick birds will be found sleeping or with their eyes closed.

In some cases the sick chicken may have a swollen head, discharge from nose, eyes or mouth.


 This is one of the hardest signs to spot in a sick chicken.

Reproductive issues will often affect the mother hen,eggs or chicks.

You will notice that the  chicks may be smaller than usual or weak after hatching.

In laying hens there is a significant  drop in egg production.

The eggs from the sick mother hens may be soft-shelled or deformed .

5.Diarrhoea and intestines

This is one of the most common signs of ill-health in poultry farming.

The main diseases that cause diarrhea include new castle among others.

Most of the time the sick hen may be off feed and have an empty or swollen crop.

Wet litter is often an early and common sign of diarrhea.

In most cases diarrhoea can be red (bloody), green or white, or see pasted vent with feces smeared on feathers .

In the case of New castle the diarrhea will be greenish in colour an indication of loss of appetite by the sick bird.

6.Nervous system

Just like in humans this is the control unit of  the chicken.

Common signs of a nervous system attack in birds is some birds use their wings to “walk” around.

Birds may be paralyzed and unable to move  and might seam to be alert.

Birds that are able to move may have poor balance, fall over to one side, or walk in a circle to one side or have a head tilt


This is the ultimate result of  sick birds.Some diseases can kill rapidly while others with early treatment can be easily controlled.

Other viral diseases like new castle can easily kill an entire poulty farm within a matter of days.

Birds are found dead, some near-dead birds may be convulsing.

Birds may be seen to “flip over” and die.

The position of a dead bird (back or side) may indicate cause of death


Like the saying goes prevetaion is better than cure.

Most  poultry diseases can be easily avoided by good hygene.

Clean the poultry house on a daily basis,clean the drikners and feeders on your farm.

Lastly provide clean water to the flock daily and ensure the birds are vaccinated following the write vaccination schedule.

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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