Look out for poultry diseases

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WITH the winter season upon us, livestock farmers are on the lookout for livestock diseases that are rampant during this period.
Producers with small stock such as goats and poultry should also ensure they protect their flock from diseases, experts have said.
Government has, however, in the past seasons, through the Veterinary Department, helped farmers vaccinate livestock for notifiable diseases such as anthrax, Newcastle, rabies as well as foot and mouth.
Zimbabwe Farmers Union livestock expert Lloyd Mataya said poultry producers should take precaution and avoid the spread of diseases.
“Important factors that should be addressed to ensure that one has a healthy flock of chickens, for example, are management and environment,” he said.
“When chickens are healthy, they eat less food and produce more meat and eggs. “They are less trouble to look after and less money is spent on medical costs.”
Mataya said diseases spread rapidly among chickens because they are usually kept together in a cage.
“They (chickens) also share the same food and water bowls, which can spread disease and infections from sick to healthy chickens,” he said.
Newcastle disease is probably the most devastating for poultry farmers around the world.
This is a production disease that causes a large number of deaths in chickens and huge losses to farmers and the industry.
Because there is no treatment and the disease spreads quickly, infected chickens should be slaughtered immediately.
Mataya encouraged farmers to adhere to vaccination programmes.
“With the help from local veterinary officers, farmers should follow stipulated vaccination programmes to protect their birds,” he said.
“Farmers should be educated that vaccination is not only important during the rain season, but throughout the year.”
The single most important factor in keeping poultry healthy is maintaining good hygiene, Mataya said.
“Healthy parents and hygienic hatchery conditions contribute greatly to disease-free chicks,” he said.
“Good hygiene standards will reduce disease challenge. Farm sanitation does not just mean the choice of the right disinfectant. The key to farm sanitation is effective cleaning.”

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