In Summary
  • Chicken and pig farmers should always ensure that they have the protective clothing for visitors and their veterinary service providers.
  • It is part of the best practice in biosecurity procedures that ensure the visitors do not introduce diseases on the farm or transfer diseases to others.
  • The growing birds all appeared normal in demeanour, activity and body condition. There were only a few brown-coloured droppings and Bonnie confirmed the number of birds affected by coccidiosis had greatly reduced since he started treatment.
  • I explained to Bonnie the attack by the disease could have been the cause of the drop in peak egg production. The birds would possibly further increase production once they all fully recovered.

The chicken “orchestra” was in full performance when I arrived on the farm in Ruiru last week.

The layer birds appeared really happy with their situation. The harmony of their voices could have embarrassed some musical groups.

The birds confirmed the owner’s report that they were generally happy but one batch had a serious problem that had lasted about 35 days, surprisingly with very low mortality.

Bonnie, the farm manager, quickly briefed my colleague, Dr Joyce, and I on the problem. The farm had about 8,000 layer chickens of the Isa Brown breed in five different stages of production.

Two batches were in peak production, laying at about 75 and 80 per cent. The third batch, called S9 on the farm, was supposed to be hitting peak production of about 85-90 per cent at 22 weeks of age, but was currently only doing a measly 20 per cent.

The adult birds were raised on the cage system with three to four birds per cage, as recommended.

Dr Joyce asked Bonnie to give us the full brief and we would conclude by thoroughly interrogating the problem with S9. The fourth batch comprised spent layers that were to be sold for meat within the week.

Finally, there was the fifth batch of grower chickens about 10 weeks old in a house detached from that of the adult birds.

These birds had a bit of brown stool and Bonnie informed us he had already started treating them for coccidiosis. He provided us with clean protective clothing from his stock including caps, dust coats, gumboots and latex gloves.

Chicken and pig farmers should always ensure that they have the protective clothing for visitors and their veterinary service providers.

It is part of the best practice in biosecurity procedures that ensure the visitors do not introduce diseases on the farm or transfer diseases to others.

START TREATMENT EARLY

I informed Bonnie we would first examine the growing batch from outside their house then observe the two batches in top production from inside their housing units before going into the problematic lot. We would not check the spent birds.

My suggested pattern aimed to minimise cross-contamination of the houses and chances of disease transfer between the different lots of birds.

The growing birds all appeared normal in demeanour, activity and body condition. There were only a few brown-coloured droppings and Bonnie confirmed the number of birds affected by coccidiosis had greatly reduced since he started treatment.

I reiterated to him it is always advisable to start treatment early on noticing the brown colour to maximise effectiveness of treatment and prevent mortality.

Page 1 of 2