DEPARTMENT: AGRICULTURE

Gut conditions in poultry

S.Y. MANGERA 

 

WHY ARE THESE CONDITIONS IMPORTANT?

Apart from death, these conditions lead to production and economic losses, meaning that you will have fewer eggs and less meat to eat and sell while spending more on food and medication. These diseases may cause the same signs in live chickens, e.g. diarrhoea. It is important to recognise the different diseases in dead chickens so that the correct treatment can be given to the sick ones.

WHAT CAUSES GUT CONDITIONS?

Many different things can cause gut conditions. The most frequent sign seen, is diarrhoea. While diarrhoea is not specific, the following diseases can cause the condition in chickens:

The following diseases are caused by bacteria:

The following diseases are caused by viruses:

Other causes of gut conditions are:

HOW DO I KNOW THAT MY CHICKENS HAVE A GUT CONDITION?

They may show some of the following signs:

HOW DO I RECOGNISE THE CAUSES?

BACTERIA

Bacteria are usually present in carcasses, bird droppings and in dirty cages/houses. When birds eat food or drink water contaminated by carcasses or droppings they get infected.

FOWL TYPHOID

Signs in live chickens

Chicks—white droppings, high number of deaths.

Adults—thin yellow diarrhoea, a drop in egg production, pale wattles.

Signs in dead chickens

Carcass is dark red in colour, intestines contain watery fluid, sometimes blood. Liver and spleen are bigger than normal. Small white spots on liver, heart and lungs in birds that have been ill for some time.

Treatment

Antibiotics such as tetracyclines or amoxycillin can be given in the feed or in water.

SALMONELLOSIS

Signs in live chickens

Generally affects chickens under two weeks of age. Diarrhoea with caked feathers around the vent area is seen. Sick birds are depressed and reluctant to move.

Signs in dead chickens

Lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys are swollen and dark red in colour. The caecum is affected. It is bigger than normal and is filled with a hard white substance.

Treatment

Antibiotics can be used such as tetracyclines, penicillins or enrofloxacin (baytril). These can be given in feed or water.

NECROTIC ENTERITIS

Signs in live chickens

Signs are nonspecific. Chickens may show depression, refuse to eat and there will be a high number of dead ones. Sometimes they will just be found dead with no other signs. These signs are similar to coccidiosis.

Signs in dead chickens

The gut wall is usually thickened and very red.

Treatment

Penicillins or tetracyclines can be given in drinking water. Coccidiosis and necrotic enteritis can occur simultaneously and therefore it is important to also treat for coccidiosis.

INFECTIOUS CORYZA

Signs in live chickens

Chickens have green diarrhoea. Their heads swell, especially around the eyes and they have mucous around the nose and eyes. There is a big drop in egg production.

Signs in dead chickens

The nose and eyes are red. There is swelling of the head and wattles.

Treatment

Antibiotics such as sulphonamides, tetracyclines and enrofloxacin can be used. These can be given in feed or water.

SPIROCHAETOSIS

Signs in live chickens

Usually affects young chickens, which appear depressed, do not eat and have diarrhoea. The feathers around the vent area are dirty. The chicks from sick hens show poor growth and may also have wet droppings.

Signs in dead chickens

The spleen is enlarged and mottled.

Treatment

Chickens can be treated with antibiotics such as penicillins in water.

VIRUSES

Viruses are usually present in droplets in the air or in droppings from infected chickens. Chickens become infected by breathing in these droplets or eating or drinking food or water contaminated by droppings. Although expensive, vaccination is important for viral diseases. Because treatment of these diseases is usually ineffective it is better to prevent them than to try and treat them.

NEWCASTLE DISEASE

Signs in live chickens

Green diarrhoea, high number of deaths, difficulty in breathing, decrease in egg production, eggshell problems.

Signs in dead chickens

Very red windpipe (trachea), red spots on glandular stomach and in intestines.

Treatment

There is no treatment available. Sick birds should be destroyed.

Newcastle disease should be reported to a state veterinarian
or animal health technician.

GUMBORO DISEASE (INFECTIOUS BURSAL DISEASE)

Usually affects young chicks up to 6 weeks of age.

Signs in live chickens

Depression, white droppings, ruffled feathers, head bent down with eyes closed.

Signs in dead chickens

Small red spots (bruising) on glandular stomach and on thigh, breast and leg muscles. The bursa is large and cherry red in colour. The bursa is a gland that is found at the end of the gut.

It is usually important in chicks for protecting them against diseases. In older chickens it is very small and not of much importance.

Treatment

There is no treatment for Gumboro disease.

PARASITES

There are two important types of internal parasites in chickens. These are coccidia and worms.

These parasites are usually easier to prevent than to treat. It sometimes works out cheaper to dose your chickens against coccidia and worms instead of treating them when you see signs of infection.

COCCIDIOSIS

This is important to farmers who keep their chickens in houses. Coccidia are present in the droppings from infected chickens. If cages/houses are not cleaned properly, then chickens can get infected by eating food or drinking water contaminated by droppings.

Signs in live chickens

Chickens may have diarrhoea or even very soft droppings with blood spots. However, sometimes the only sign may be poor growth.

Signs in dead chickens

The gut may contain watery or slimy fluid, sometimes with blood spots, or the gut may be filled with blood. There may also be red spots on the gut.


Treatment

Drugs available to treat coccidiosis include the sulphonamides. If you suspect coccidiosis in your chickens it is better to contact your local animal health technician so that he/she can help you to treat the problem.

WORMS

The two most important types of worms are roundworms and tapeworms. These are important in free-ranging birds. These worms live in the gut of chickens. Worm eggs or early stages of worms can be found in droppings or sometimes in flies or beetles. When chickens eat food or drink water contaminated with these droppings or if they eat these flies and beetles they get infected with worms.

ULCERS

DISEASES AND CONDITION AFFECTING SPECIFIC PARTS OF THE GUT

Condition affecting mouth to gullet: roundworms.

Diseases affecting the glandular stomach: Gumboro disease, Newcastle disease.

Diseases and conditions affecting the intestines: coccidiosis, roundworms and tapeworms, fowl typhoid and necrotic enteritis.

Diseases and conditions affecting the caecum: occidiosis, roundworms, fowl typhoid

HOW DO I PREVENT MY CHICKENS FROM GETTING ANY GUT CONDITIONS?

Good management is the key to healthy chickens. Here are a few tips on how to manage your chickens:

There are vaccinations available for most of these diseases. However, they can be expensive and may not all be required for your area.


For further information contact your local animal health technician or state veterinarian
or
Animal Health for Developing Farmers
ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute
Private Bag X05, Onderstepoort 0110
Tel. (012) 529 9158
or
Resource Centre, Department of Agriculture
Tel. 319 7141/7085


This publication is available on the web: www.nda.agric.za/publications



Information provided by
Animal Health for Developing Farmers
ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute
Private Bag X05, Onderstepoort 0110
Tel. (012) 529 9158


2001

Compiled by Directorate Communication, Department of Agriculture
in cooperation with
ARC-Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute

Printed and published by Department of Agriculture
and obtainable from Resource Centre, Directorate Communication
Private Bag X144, Pretoria 0001, South Africa