Causes of Mortality in Poultry Birds.

So many have said that it is impossible to rear birds without recording any mortality. Their conclusion may be out of their personal experience; they must have reared birds and must have recorded mortality frequently resulting to that concluding fact that there must be mortality (on a small scale or large scale, extensive or intensive farming). For the fact that there have been frequent records of mortality in so many poultry farms does not make zero mortality unattainable. Though it has not occurred constantly, but it has been on record.

In this article, we will be talking about those factors and strategies that make it difficult or almost impossible as some people think to rear chicken without recording any mortality. We will take it in steps and explain the causes of mortality to poultry birds {both day old chick [DOC], broilers, pullets, and layers}
There are so many things that cause mortality in poultry birds. Many of these are due to mishandling of the bird and not taking proper measures in managing the birds. Poultry birds are so fragile and delicate especially the exotic birds which have not fully adapted to the environmental conditions of the tropical regions.

Causes of Mortality in Poultry birds

Some of the factors that cause loss of birds in our poultry farms are:

Stress is one of those factors that cause loss of birds in most poultry farms, especially on the day-old chick. When these birds are transported from the hatchery to farm, most times in a long distance, they are being subjected to both internal and external stress. The harsh weather, the gallops on the road, inadequate water supply, and so many other stress-inducing conditions are the things that can make the birds prone to sickness and on a severe case cause death to these birds. Day old chicks are not only susceptible to these stress factors. Poultry birds in all stages are susceptible to these stress factors.
Heat stress
Heat stress can also be of negative effects to the birds. When this happens, the birds tend to go off feed and they take more of water to maintain homeostasis. Staying off feed will also contribute to stress thereby affecting the productivity of the birds negatively. The birds reared for meat, dual (meat and egg), and egg is affected.

Lack of proper vaccination program
Chicken are susceptible to many infectious diseases; such as Newcastle disease, fowl pox, fowl typhoid etc that causes stress to birds and reduce feed intake, depressed growth and in severe cases can result to the death of the birds.
It is a good farm practice that any new flock of birds stocked should be properly vaccinated against endemic diseases to avoid disease outbreak which can lead to loss of birds in the poultry farm. When we say being properly vaccinated, it means that the dosage must be followed religiously as prescribed. The vaccine should be properly kept and stored in an optimum refrigeration temperature so that it will not be contaminated because if the vaccine gets contaminated, it will not be effective. This can make the pathogen develop immunity over the vaccine and then affect all the birds.
Poor /bad feedstuff
The quality of feedstuff is very important in poultry production. There are different feed for different stages of birds. The starter chicks require high protein in their feed more than the grower or finisher birds. Also, layers need high protein content in their feedstuff for egg production. The feed should be kept in a cool dry store where water will not soil the feed and contaminate it making it bad for consumption. In feed formulation, feedstuff should not have too much fat and oil content in it to avoid rancidity. If such feed is being fed to the birds, it may result to respiratory or digestive problem which could possibly lead to death.
Some breeds of birds are meant to grow fast and big in size like broilers (38g to 2.5kg in six weeks). To attain this growth, the chicken must be provided with correct feed. Since the cost of feed is high (about 70% of production cost), sometimes farmers mix good quality feedstuff with lower grade feed. Sometimes they feed with feed that has deteriorated or unfit for chicken consumption; resulting in poor growth performance and death.
Improper Housing
Poultry house should be able to protect the birds from predators, thieves and most importantly from harsh weather and not cause injury to the birds or expose the birds to harsh condition. Poultry house that is not properly constructed; with holes and patches can be easily invaded by predators. Bad or poor housing will lead to poor ventilation; whereby the in and out flow of air will not be well circulated resulting to suffocation and death.
Over crowding
Over populating the poultry farm can lead to so many harm on the birds. When a farm is over populated, the birds could be suffocated. This could also result to cannibalism, and serious competition among the birds; thriving to get feed, water or resting space. In the process of this competition, a bird could be injured or suffocate and die.

Poor litter management
Harmful bacteria thrive well in a wet litter. Birds will be exposed to these bacteria and may be infected. Wet and dirty litter emits ammonia gas which is dangerous to birds if its level in the air exceeds 25 ppm, the birds will be subjected to various stresses which could result to problems like irritation of the eyes and nasal membrane, poor feed intake, and growth rate. The birds will also be predisposed to coccidiosis and respiratory diseases like coryza, bronchitis etc. even if the ammonia emitted is below 15ppm, it still has bad effect on the birds. Wet litter results to dirty feathers, foot pad, lesion breast bruises/blisters. Affected parts of the birds will be rejected when processed for sale. If the birds eventually pick anything from the wet litter, they will be infected by this harmful bacteria resulting to illness and in severe cases lead to mortality.

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