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Turkeys

 

Sneezing Turkeys

Cause

The main causes of Respiratory Disease in turkeys are Mycoplasma and Avian RhinoTracheitis virus (ART). Often these agents occur together and without your vet carrying out a blood test there is no way of telling which one(s) are involved. Irrespective of the cause the treatment is the same.

It is important to note that Mycoplasma is carried by the bird for life and will remain dormant with little damage caused, however it can flare up during times of stress, such as moving to a new home.  The infected birds will then go on to infect the new flock.  

Mycoplasma can also be transferred through the egg from the hen to her poults.  It can cause joint infections in turkeys leading to lameness.  Mycoplasma and ART can infect chickens too.

What to look out for

  • sneezing
  • runny eyes
  • runny nose
  • lameness

Treatment

In mild cases the birds will recover.  However, if the birds appear dull or the condition does not improve then seek veterinary advice. 

If your vet gives your birds antibiotics, we recommend giving Beryl’s Friendly Bacteria after antibiotic treatment.  This is because antibiotics will kill the good bacteria along with the bad bacteria. This product contains over 200 species of friendly bacteria to help repopulate the gut. 

Note: Do not give Beryl's Friendly Bacteria until at least 48 hours after the use of antibiotics as their residues may kill the friendly bacteria.

As with all diseases, Respiratory Disease can take a lot out of you bird and we recommend using Chicken Vet Amino + containing essential amino acids and B vitamins to help build up your bird’s body reserves after illness along with Chicken Vet Energy to stimulate appetite and give the bird energy. 

Prevention

  • Only buy poults from reputable suppliers, not local markets.
  • Try to buy vaccinated birds
  • If you buy new birds, try to keep them isolated from your existing birds for 3 weeks.
 

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Coccidiosis in Turkeys

Cause

Coccidiosis is caused by a single celled parasite which enters the cells of the bird’s gut to reproduce.  The parasite destroys the cells lining the gut wall leading to intestinal damage. The degree of damage will depend on how many coccidial eggs (oocysts) are eaten, which in turn will depend upon how contaminated the environment is with oocysts.

This damage reduces the gut's ability to absorb nutrients leading to weight loss and diarrhoea. The damaged gut allows harmful bacteria to reproduce causing a secondary bacterial diarrhoea and in severe cases this can cross into the blood causing blood poisoning.

Coccidiosis eggs (oocysts) have a very thick wall and as such can survive years in the environment.  The eggs can be resistant to many disinfectants so ensure that your disinfectant is licensed against coccidiosis.

Note: The coccidial species which infects chickens and turkeys are different.  They cannot infect each other but if you keep chickens and turkeys together, if the conditions are right for cocci to take hold in your chickens, then conditions will be prefect for the cocci species that infects your turkeys.

Which birds are at risk

Turkeys will pick up the eggs from faeces and bedding. As they become exposed to coccidiosis they will develop immunity against it (with or without clinical signs depending on the number of oocysts they consume). Birds that come into contact with their own droppings for the first time such as poults from 2 weeks to 2 months of age have no immunity and as such are vulnerable.

What to look out for

  • dull, hunched birds with ruffled feathers
  • sudden death
  • diarrhoea (often wateryn and can contain mucus) - blood is rare compared to chicken cocci
  • birds are often affected in varying degrees

Diagnosis

You should consult your vet if you suspect coccidiosis or you can use a Chicken Vet Faeces Sample Kit. Simply collect 10 fresh droppings, place into the pot provided, complete the submission form and post to Chicken Vet.  We will count the number of coccidial oocysts in the droppings to determine if your bird has coccidiosis.

Treatment

This condition needs veterinary intervention as an anticoccidial agent will possibly be needed along with antibiotics to control secondary bacterial infections.

Your turkey will not be absorbing enough water and electrolytes from its gut, therefore it should be given Anilyte + C in drinking water for 3 to 5 days. Anilyte +C contains electrolytes to rehydrate your bird and aniseed to give the water a pleasant taste, encouraging your dehydrated bird to drink. 

After antibiotic treatment, the good bacteria in the gut will have been killed in addition to the bad. BioStop contains tannis to maintain and support birds with intestinal upset. The product would be ideal following the immediate use of antibiotics as sometimes, when birds are taken off antibiotics, diarrhoea can return, albeit in a milder form.  BioStop should be given for 5 days at 0.5ml/Litre of water.

After BioStop we recommend giving your turkey Beryl’s Friendly Bacteria. This product contains over 200 species of friendly bacteria to help repopulate the gut. 

Note: Do not give Beryl’s Friendly Bacteria until at least 48 hours after the use of antibiotics as their residues may kill the friendly bacteria. 

During this tough time for your bird, it will have gone through weeks of poor nutrient absorption from the gut and will have lost weight. We suggest following up Beryl’s Friendly Bacteria with a five day course of Chicken Vet Amino + which contains B vitamins and amino acids to help compensate for the body having been effectively starved of nutrients during illness.

Prevention

Good hygiene is essential. Regular cleaning and disinfection of the house is necessary especially if you’re breeding or rearing poults. Always ensure you use a detergent before your disinfectant and that you use an approved disinfectant against coccidiosis such as Interkokask.

 

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Diarrhoea in Turkeys

Cause(s)

Diarrhoea in turkeys can be caused by a number of harmful agents including bacteria, viruses (such as haemorrhagic enteritis virus) and coccidiosis.  These agents damage the intestine wall and can cause reduced absorption of nutrients leading to weight loss and a reduction in the amount of water absorbed by the gut, leading to dehydration. Depending on the cause, the diarrhoea may be contagious to other birds.

Poor quality feed or excessive/inappropriate treats can also lead to diarrhoea.

Dirty drinking water can harbour lots of bacteria to cause diarrhoea.

Note: Worms do not usually cause diarrhoea but large burdens may upset the gut. Ensure your bird has been wormed in the past three months with Flubenvet1%.

What to look out for

  • wet bedding
  • loose droppings
  • weight loss
  • dull hunched up birds with ruffled feathers
  • pasted vents

Treatment

If you are concerned about the possibility of worms or coccidiosis being an underlying cause then you can use the Chicken Vet Faeces Sample Kit. Simply collect 10 fresh droppings, place into the pot provided, complete the submission form and post to Chicken Vet.  We will count the number of coccidial oocysts and worm eggs in the droppings to determine if your bird has coccidiosis and/or worms. 

If your bird looks reasonably bright and is eating and drinking it may be worth trying Biostop. Biostop contains tannins to maintain and support birds with intestinal upset.  This product should be given for 5-7 days in drinking water and can be given to healthy birds.

It is likley that your bird will not be absorbing enough water and electrolytes from its gut, therefore Anilyte + C will help rehydrate your birds as it contains electrolytes and aniseed which gives the water a pleasant taste, encouraging your dehydrated bird to drink. It can be given in drinking water for up to 3 days, and can also be administered at the same time as Biostop.

After Biostop use Beryl’s Friendly Bacteria, a powder containing a complex range of friendly bacteria. These friendly bacteria help to colonise the turkey’s gut forming a physical barrier against harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli and Clostridium perfringens. The product is particularly useful in the following circumstances:

  •  at time of hatch
  • when birds are stressed (travelling, showing, breeding)
  • if they have had a change of diet
  • following an illness, especially if the bird has had antibiotics and normal gut flora has been disturbed
  • as an aid to older birds

Beryl’s Friendly Bacteria is approved for organic birds by the Organic Farmers and Growers and the Organic Food Federation.  It can be mixed with the feed, given in the water or mixed with water and squirted into the bird’s mouth.   

Keep the bedding clean and dry as dirty wet bedding is unpleasant for your birds and can harbour bacteria more readily to infect other birds.

If your bird appears unwell, is not eating or drinking, or does not show signs of improvement, take it to your local vet.

Prevention

  • ensure feed is clean, dry, and within use by date
  • be careful not to overdo treats
  • ensure clean drinking water at all times that is changed daily
  • keep bedding clean and dry at all times - use Chicken Vet Dri Bed
  • give Beryl’s Friendly Bacteria every 8 weeks to keep the good bacteria in the gut topped up
 

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Worms in Turkeys

Cause

There are two groups of worms that affect turkeys - gape worms which live in the bird’s windpipe and cause gasping (these worms are exceedingly rare) and intestinal worms which live in the birds gut.  There are three species of intestinal worm: Capillaria, Ascaridia and Heterakis.

Capillaria (Hairworm) are the smallest of these worms (up to 2.5cm in length) and can live in any part of the digestive tract from the crop to the intestine depending on the species of worm. Don’t be fooled by their small size as these worms are the most harmful of the gut worms.

Ascarids live in the small intestine and although the largest of the worms (up to 12cm in length) they tend to cause only moderate damage and inflammation.

Heterakis is a small worm living in the caecum (Large intestine/blind gut). Whilst the worm is harmless it can carry ‘Blackhead’ (a parasite that is carried by the worm and causes liver damage and diarrhoea often resulting in sudden death in turkeys- they are very vulnerable to blackhead infection).

Note it is a common misconception that only Free range birds can get worms!

What to look out for

  • weight loss
  • dullness
  • lack of egg production (in breeding birds)
  • mild diarrhoea

Diagnosis

The only way to be sure if your birds have worms is to sample their droppings using the Chicken Vet Faeces Sample Kit.  Simply collect 10 fresh droppings, place them into the pot provided, complete the submission form and post to Chicken Vet.  We will count the number of worm eggs in the droppings to determine if your bird has worms and we will let you know if you need to worm your flock. 

Treatment

Give your turkeys a course of Flubenvet1% in feed for 7 days at 60g/30Kg of feed.

Note: This is lower than the dose for chickens.

Prevention

Either routinely worm your birds with Flubenvet at least every 6 months (spring and autumn) and ideally every 3 months.  Alternatively, send in droppings samples every 8 weeks to Chicken Vet.

When cleaning your chicken houses, use an appropriate disinfectant such as Interkokask, which is licensed against worm eggs.

Try to move your run if possible to prevent a build up of worm eggs on the pasture.

Note: Never let turkeys range with chickens or on pasture that chickens have been on as turkeys are extremely susceptible to blackhead and will readily die.

 

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Blackhead in Turkeys

Cause

Blackhead is caused by a single celled parasite called Histomonas meleagridis.  Blackhead is carried by the relatively harmless caecal worm (Heterakis) and by earthworms, allowing blackhead to survive in the environment for years. Blackhead will affect chickens, pea fowl and turkeys but turkeys and pea fowl are more vulnerable to infection than chickens.

What to look out for

  • sudden death
  • dullnes
  • bright yellow diarrhoea
  • in very exceptional cases, birds will develop a black coloured head

Diagnosis

The only way to correctly diagnose Blackhead is for your vet to carry out a post mortem.

Treatment

Treatment will involve your vet prescribing antibiotics to try to kill the Blackhead as well as controlling secondary infections.

It is essential that birds with Blackhead are wormed to kill the Heterakis worms that may be carrying Blackhead.

Chicken Vet Oregano + can be given for 5 days after treatment as oregano has an anti-blackhead effect.

Prevention

Ensure your birds are regularly wormed every 3 months with Flubenvet1%.

Never let turkeys or pea fowl range with chickens or on ground where chickens have ranged in the past ten years.

 

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Lameness in Turkeys

Cause

The most common cause of lameness in turkeys is Mycoplasma infection, which can be transmitted in several ways; through the air, through the egg and through mating.

In most cases, Mycoplasma causes swollen leg joints but one species of Mycoplasma can cause twisted bones in poults.

Mycoplasma can also cause Respiratory Disease.

What to look out for

  • lameness
  • swollen Joints
  • sneezing
  • swollen face
  • dullness

Diagnosis

Often lameness in turkeys is suggestive of a Mycoplasma infection.

Treatment

Antibiotics are recommended to bring the infection under control. Seek advice from your vet.

Prevention

  • Prevention is based upon keeping the disease out.
  • Only buy poults or other birds from reputable suppliers.
  • Ideally quarantine new birds for three weeks upon arrival.
  • Try to keep wild birds away if possible by keeping their access to feed heavily restricted.
 

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Haemorrhagic Enteritis in Turkeys

Haemorrhagic enteritis is a condition caused by a virus which infects mainly infects young turkeys, causing a bloody diarrhoea and death.

What to look out for

  • dullness
  • diarrhoea (often with blood)
  • sudden death

Diagnosis

A bloody diarrhoea in turkeys will either be due to coccidiosis or Haemorrhagic enteritis virus.

Treatment

Veterinary attention is needed immediately and will often prescribe antibiotics to control secondary bacterial infections.

In the meantime, your bird will not be absorbing enough water and electrolytes from its gut and it should be given Anilyte + C.  This contains electrolytes to rehydrate your bird and contains aniseed to give the water a pleasant taste thus encouraging your dehydrated bird to drink. Give Anilyte for 3-5 days in drinking water.

After the treatment the good bacteria in the gut will have been killed as well as the bad.  Beryl's Friendly Bacteria helps restore the good bacteria population in your chickens' gut.

Biostop is a tannin based herbal product, used at times of runny or loose droppings.  This product would be ideal following the immediate use of antibiotics as sometimes when birds are taken off antibiotics, the diarrhoea can return albeit in a milder form. BioStop should be given for 5 days at 0.5ml/Litre of water.

Prevention

Good hygiene is essential with an approved disinfectant such as Interkokask being used.

 

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