Producers must be more pro-active with diseases

Producers can stay one step ahead of poultry diseases by simply observing the birds, advised an experienced farm manager at a Humphrey Feeds’ seminar held last month in Guildford.

Mick Dennett, Humphrey Feeds’ free-range specialist, told producers at the event to take a more pro-active role in recognising, preventing and managing disease problems on their units to reduce veterinary costs.

Mr Dennett, who is known in the sector as a “chicken reincarnated”, recommended that producers go into their sheds and wait, look and listen. 

“We can spot diseases early on by visually looking at the birds.  If you walk around and open up the birds, you’ll spot obvious symptoms – you don’t have to be a vet to do that.  You should be looking at the birds all of the time to give you an idea of what’s going on on-farm,” he said.    

Problems such as red mite, gape worms, lice, or coccidiosis can be detected early on by following his advice.  “We’re all in the same boat.   There is little doubt that diseases cost too much money and often blood results are inconclusive.  If you sit quietly and look at the birds, you can see a problem,” Mr Dennett added. 

Key disease symptoms

Drop in egg production 
Feather pecking and feather loss
Uneven weights
Later laying
Elliptical/closed eyes
Flat back
Bent comb
Damp feathers around the eyes