Managemental practices to mitigate parasitic loads in poultry

Poultry is suffering from various parasitic infection/infestation i.e. coccidian, roundworms and tape worms (helminths / internal parasites) and fleas, lice, mites and ticks (external parasites). Poultry is frequently afflicted with coccidian infection. It is an internal parasitic disease that is most common in young birds i.e. three weeks aged and matures flocks. The disease is economically significant and is brought on by several Eimeria parasite species.

Different symptoms and spreading of coccidiosis:

  • Underweight birds, early mortality, decreased development and production rates, and early slaughter are typical signs of coccidiosis in poultry.
  • The disease is mostly transmitted by ingesting contaminated material that contains the sporulated oocysts that are present in the litter.
  • These oocysts are expelled by infected birds in their droppings because they need warmth and moisture to grow.
  • The oocysts are highly resistant to most disinfectants and can remain active in the litter for over a year.  
  • Although coccidiosis can affect birds of any age, cases are rare in chicks under three weeks old because it takes time for the parasites to multiply to the point where they can cause infection and pathogenesis in birds.

Signs and Symptoms of Coccidiosis:

  • Depression and slower growth rate
  • Loss of weight (emaciation)
  • Birds with pale mucous membranes and acute diarrhoea
  • A high death rate and ruffled feathers
  • A reduction in egg output 6. Appetite loss (lower intake of feed and fluids)

Diagnosis:

  • The presence of parasites can be achieved through faecal examination in laboratory
  • Vitamins A and K deficiency can make coccidiosis outbreaks more severe.

Control and Treatment of Coccidiosis:

  • Amprolium can help control the parasite’s ability to multiply and slow down its rate of reproduction, although it is practically impossible to completely prevent coccidiosis under normal farm conditions.
  • Sanitary measures are also crucial in keeping the number of coccidia on the premises as low as possible to prevent severe infections.

Sanitary Measures to Control Coccidiosis on the Farm:

  • As often as possible, give poultry buildings a thorough cleaning and disinfection with an appropriate disinfectant.
  • Repair any roof leaks and make sure there is a sufficient overhang to keep rainwater out of the house so that the litter and the entire house stay dry.
  • To avoid caking, stir the litter frequently and dispose of it on a regular basis.
  • To lessen the severity of coccidia infection and financial losses, use amprolium and sulphur containing medications early in the outbreak.
  • Increase ventilation in the home.
  • Prevent bird crowding.
  • Wash and sanitize feeders and drinkers.
  • Start regular preventive care on a monthly basis because birds don’t react well to medication once symptoms start to show.

Roundworms and Tapeworms (worm infection) in Poultry

Poultry frequently suffers from worm infestations, which are mostly brought on by roundworms and tapeworms. The faecal oral pathway is the means by which these infections move from bird to bird.

Signs of worm infection in Poultry:

  • Droopiness in birds with severe infections.
  • Pale combs, poor development, and weight loss.
  • An unthrifty appearance and diarrhoea.
  • Ruffled feathers, decreased appetite, and decreased egg production.

Strategies to prevent worm infection in poultry:

  • To ensure optimal immunity, feed poultry a nutritious diet that is well-balanced.
  • Keep farm water and feed from polluting.
  • Keep birds away from rubbish and muddy or contaminated ground since worm eggs can live there for a very long time.
  • Frequently clean and sanitize the poultry house, particularly before to adding a fresh flock of hens.
  • To reduce the possibility of worm infestation, keep juvenile birds and adults apart.
  • Manage farm pests and worms, including cockroaches, ants, weevils, beetles, slugs, snails, flies, and grasshoppers.
  • Levamisole and piperazine citrate are effective treatments for worms control.

External Parasites: Fleas, Lice, Mites and Ticks

Larger species of parasites that attack the skin of domestic animals and poultry are referred to as ectoparasites or external parasites. The most significant external parasites include fleas, lice, mites and ticks.

(a) Fleas:

  • Fleas are tiny, dark coloured parasites that can jump far into the air.
  • Their powerful hind legs are designed for jumping, and they can go for extended periods of time without nourishment.
  • Nests of birds and crevices in walls and flooring are common places to find flea eggs and larvae.
  • Weight loss and pale combs are indicators that a chicken has fleas.

(b) Lice:

  • The lice live outside of birds’ bodies, primarily in their skin, especially under their wings and in the area surrounding their cloaca.
  • They irritate birds, which lowers their ability to produce meat and eggs.
  • The blood of many domestic animals and birds is what lice eat. Often, head and feather lice cause alopecia and discomfort in poultry.
  • Manage a lice infestation by dipping and spraying with insecticides that are advised.

(c) Mites:

  • Microscopic ectoparasites known as mites can cause problems.
  • They live in cracks and crevices in homes and porches, emerging at night to eat.
  • Mites have dark legs and are white in colour.
  • They feed on the blood of their hosts and have the ability to reduce egg production.
  • Poultry weight loss, scabs around the vent, a decrease in egg production, and feather loss are all indicators of a mite infestation.
  • Dust powder or spray solutions, along with the proper disinfectants, can be used to effectively control mites in poultry buildings.

(d) Ticks:

  • Severe infestations by ticks can result in anaemia and, in the worst circumstances, may even be fatal from blood loss.
  • Tick related symptoms in poultry include red spots on the skin, pale combs or wattles, shifting perching positions, and decreased weight gain.

Strategies to successfully manage exogenous parasites:

  • Dust individual birds, walls, and chicken laying nests with Malathion.
  • Apply diatomaceous earth and inject medications such as moxidectin or ivermectin to birds.
  • Fix wall cracks and fissures and keep the farm house clean and hygienic overall.

Strategies for preventive diseases on the Poultry Farm:

  • Try to avoid visiting other farms when there is an outbreak.
  • Set admission restrictions for guests and enforce hygienic practices.
  • Use sanitizing foot washes at the entry and give each chicken home its own pair of boots or sandals.
  • Before and after use, wash and sanitize agricultural equipment, such as feeders, drinkers, and debeakers.
  • Don’t take in borrowed equipment from other farms, and clean egg trays from the store.
  • To stop the spread of disease agents, regulate the entry of feed trucks, pickups, and delivery vans for chicks.
  • Vehicle bottoms and wheels should be cleaned and sanitized, and cars should be parked at least 30 meters away from chicken houses.
  • Make sure that no water sources are contaminated, as this can act as a haven for the spread of illnesses like salmonella, E. coli, bird flu, and Newcastle disease.
  • Resolve any leaks in the drinking systems and roof to stop standing water and the spread of coccidiosis.
  • Implement control measures for wild birds since they may harbour germs and viruses that cause diseases like Mycoplasma and Salmonellosis.
  • Use wire mesh that is the right size for the poultry house and keeps the doors closed at all times to make it bird proof.
  • Take care of rat infestations because they can stress the birds, spread salmonella to food and litter, and carry infections.
  • Water pipelines and electrical wires can potentially sustain harm from rodent activity.
  • Trash mounds should be removed from the farm, weeds should be cut back near the chicken coop, feed spills should be cleaned up, and rat entry sites should be sealed.
  • Keep pets and other animals away from poultry, including dogs, cats, and pet birds.
  • These animals can carry infections like Newcastle disease, psittacosis, salmonella, and chicken cholera.
  • Manage insects because they are disease carriers.
  • For instance, mosquitoes can spread salmonella and the fowl pox virus.
  • To reduce bug breeding grounds, clean the shrubs surrounding the poultry coop and remove any stagnant water.
  • To avoid a build-up of manure and water, mow the grass surrounding the home to maintain proper agricultural hygiene.
  • Bird corpses and decomposing litter should be removed since they may contain bug larvae.
  • To avoid contamination and nutrient loss, keep chicken feed properly.
  • Feed should be kept in a cool, dry location; food scraps should not be piled up on the farm; and feed ingredients should be processed, stored, and fed in moderation.
  • Immediately dispose of dead birds by burning them or burying them deeply in lime-rich soil.
  • Dead chickens should not be eaten, sold, or disposed of in lakes, rivers, or canals. Additionally, avoid giving deceased chickens to pigs or dogs.
  • To reduce the chance of illness transmission, always wash your hands and feet with soap and water before and after handling birds.

Disinfection in Poultry house:

  • Clear the poultry house’s walls of all filth.
  • Apply authorised disinfectants evenly throughout the surface at the proper volume and concentration.
  • As directed by the manufacturer, prepare and administer the disinfectant in a safe manner.

Concluding remark:

In conclusion, the productivity and well-being of chicken farms depend on upholding acceptable cleanliness standards and putting in place efficient disease management methods. Disease outbreaks can be avoided or their effects reduced by being aware of the warning signs and symptoms of different illnesses, exercising preventative measures, and acting quickly when necessary. The prevention and management of infections on poultry farms primarily depend on regular cleaning and disinfection, efficient pest control, waste management, and appropriate feeding. Through adherence to these rules and the implementation of rigorous biosecurity protocols, farmers can enhance the well-being and output of their chicken flocks.

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