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Terminology

Common Medical Conditions

Respiratory diseases

The failure to intake enough oxygen due to an attack on the birds respiratory system.

  • Aspergillosis
    Fungal Pneumonia which is made apparent by your chicks being depressed and thirsty, with gasping/rapid breathing. Contaminated litter is the main cause of transmission.
  • Avian Influenza
    This attacks all fowl. And can be transmitted by airborne particles, droppings and people. Often affected birds die suddenly or prefer to find a dark corner to hide away and display quite depressed symptoms. If your birds suffer from sudden high mortality or depression. Always contact your vet quickly if this is suspected.
  • Coryza
    A sudden and fast spreading disease. Symptoms include swelling of the head, wattles and sinuses , discharges from the eyes and nose, coughing, noisy breathing, lack of appetite and depression. Recovery takes time.
  • Chronic respiratory disease
    This can be a complex problem in Poultry, with signs including noisy breathing, coughing and nasal discharge. Cold or bad ventilation and stress make the birds more susceptible. The disease is due to many different infectious agents
  • Infectious Bronchitis
    In young birds, the virus infection can cause asphyxia, preceded by severe respiratory distress. In older birds it does not cause death, mainly a decrease in egg production or deformed eggs laid. There are many types of IB and blood testing is usually required to diagnose the strain involved. This disease is common.
  • Infectious Laryngotracheitis
    Respiratory distress is usually quite pronounced due to a build up of blood in the larynx and trachea resulting in coughing up blood and high mortality.
  • Mycoplasma gallisepticum
    Swelling will occur on one or both sides of the head. A serious infection that is transmitted to the eggs and then will spread rapidly during the early weeks.
  • Newcastle disease
    Infected birds develop respiratory or nervous signs and in laying birds there may be a drop in egg yield. People working with birds can develop influenza like symptoms, with conjunctivitis as the main symptom. The UK is at present free of this disease
  • Pneumovirus Infections
    A drop in egg production may occur as well as respiratory distress. Pneumovirus may be involved in “swollen head syndrome” where the affected chicken’s heads become enlarged and they become disorientated and depressed.
  • Neoplastic Diseases
    An Abnormal growth of tissue, usually causing a lump or tumor.
  • Lymphoid Leucosis
    Also known as “big liver disease”, tumours are the main symptom. Affected birds have bowed, thickened legs and will produce less eggs.
  • Marek’s disease
    Caused by the herpes virus and transmitted by infected premises, with young chicks being particularly susceptible. The infected birds may show weight loss or exhibit paralysis. The classic form of the disease is that the bird will lie on its side with one leg forward and the other backward caused by lesions and enlargements of the affected nerves.
  • Respiratory diseases
    The failure to intake enough oxygen due to an attack on the birds respiratory system.

Neoplastic Diseases

An Abnormal growth of tissue, usually causing a lump or tumor.

  • Lymphoid Leucosis
    Also known as “big liver disease”, tumours are the main symptom. Affected birds have bowed, thickened legs and will produce less eggs.
  • Marek’s disease
    Caused by the herpes virus and transmitted by infected premises, with young chicks being particularly susceptible. The infected birds may show weight loss or exhibit paralysis. The classic form of the disease is that the bird will lie on its side with one leg forward and the other backward caused by lesions and enlargements of the affected nerves.

Avian Adenoviral Diseases

  • Egg Drop Syndrome ’76
    Affected chickens fail to reach peak egg production or experience a drop in production accompanied by inferior eggshell quality or loss of shell colour.
  • Inclusion body hepatitis
    Chickens are usually affected by this at 5 to 7 weeks, and the disease is often indicated by ruffled feathers and lethargy.

Miscellaneous Viral Diseases

  • Avian Encephaloyelitis
    Also known as “epidemic tremor”, signs are usually shown within the first 10 days. Symptoms are leg weakness and occasionally there is trembling of the head and neck.
  • Fowl Pox
    Wart like nodules appear on the comb, wattles, eyelids, and openings of the nostrils. The virus infects the skin through abrasions and may be transmitted by insects. This is not common in the UK
  • Infectious Anaemia
    Causes symptoms in birds aged up to 3 weeks. The disease is characterised by anaemic looking birds, poor growth and haemorrhaging. This disease can be transmitted very easily
  • Infectious Bursal disease
    Affecting an important part of the immune system, this disease leaves the birds at higher risk of infection. It is also known as Gumboro disease. The main symptoms are listlessness and diarrhoea. This disease is common in chicken and vaccines can be used to prevent infection
  • Malabsorption Syndrome
    Signals are runny, foamy dropping, malpositioned feathers on the wings and pale legs and heads.
  • Reovirus infection
    Birds show symptoms between 6 and 10 weeks. The birds are reluctant to walk and when forced they tremble. Swelling in the shanks and also above the hock joint can be seen. Stunted birds can result

Miscellaneous Bacterial Diseases

  • Fowl Cholera
    Mainly transmitted from bird to bird by water or feed contamination, as well as rodents. Signs of Fowl cholera are swollen wattles; the birds become depressed, eat less as well as produce less eggs.
  • Gangrenous Dermatitis
    You would witness sudden mortality, marked depression, uncoordinated movement, skin becomes gangrenous with severe cellulites particularly over thighs, wings and wattles. Death comes within a few hours and rapid decomposition. 
  • Infectious Synovitis
    There are mild respiratory signs and an inflammatory swelling of the joints of legs and wings. The main transmission of this is egg transmission from breeder hens. 
  • Ornithobacterium Rhinotracheale
    The birds may show respiratory disease and watery eyes and swelling of the sinus. Affected birds may show growth retardation and viral infections intensify with the severity of the lesions.              
  • Pullorum Disease and Fowl Typhoid
    Pullorum can be transmitted through the breeder to the eggs. Chicks will have white diarrhoea and high mortality. Fowl Typhoid is more evident in adult chickens and do not have clinical signs, they have internal lesions. These diseases are caused by strains of salmonella
  • Salmonella
    The consequences of salmonella infection are possible human disease and also high mortality in young and old birds.
  • Yolk Sac infection
    The yolk sac is absorbed by the chick into the abdomen and is a food source for 3-5 days post hatch. Any bacteria which can get into the yolk sac can develop rapidly, with the chicks becoming lethargic and dying rapidly. There is often a characteristic putrid smell.

Parasitic Diseases

  • Blackhead
    Darkening of the head parts, especially in turkeys gave this its name. Affected birds become depressed, have ruffled feathers and yellowish diarrhoea. Gross lesions occur in the liver, mainly in younger birds.
  • Coccidiosis
    Coccidiosis is caused by protozoa, unicellular parasites and in birds there are 9 different species.  Birds will become listless, can have bloody droppings, a pale comb and a lack of appetite.
  • Endoparasites
    This is the name given to worms living in the intestines of chickens and they fall into four categories: Roundworms, Hairworms, Caecal worms and Tape worms. They damage the intestinal lining, causing anaemia, enteritis and decreased egg production.

Deficiency Diseases

  • Riboflavin
    Also known as “curly toes disease”. Young chicks will exhibit curling of the toes, inability to walk and sometimes diarrhoea. However, administering vitamin B provides a rapid cure.
  • Vitamin E
    Also known as “crazy chick disease”. This deficiency affects the brain causing degeneration and haemorrhaging. Affected chicks appear unable to walk, falling on their sides with their head between their legs.
  • Vitamin D3
    Commonly known as “rickets” or “rubber legs”. Young chickens with this deficiency have soft, pliable legs and beaks. The rib joints are swollen and curved inwards. In layers, they produce soft shelled eggs and produce less.

Health Terms

  • Dubbing
    Trimming of the comb in day old chicks, which is credited with increasing egg production.
  • Moult
    A normal behaviour, annually the feathers will be lost and replaced.
  • Trap Nest
    The process of trapping a hen into her nest box for monitoring.
  • Urates
    A solid and white urine.
  • Zoonotic
    A description of diseases that can be passed on to humans.
  • Withdrawal period
    This is a legally determined amount of time between the bird having its last dose of medicine, and its meat or produce being fit for human consumption.

Common Terms

  • Broilers
    Chickens which are grown solely for meat production.
  • In Lay
    A period of time when the bird is producing eggs.
  • Broody
    The hen will be sitting on her eggs to incubate them, ready for hatching.
  • Candling
    A process where the egg is held up to a beam of light to determine whether there are any cracks, and whether the chick has survived.
  • DEFRA
    Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
  • Dispatching
    The nice name given when you kill your bird for meat or any other cause.
  • Dressing
    The process of preparing your dead bird for consumption.
  • Grower
    A young chicken sold at about six weeks.
  • Henny-feathered
    A male who has rounded, female-like feathers.
  • Hybrid
    This is a term used today for commercial layer or broiler birds. The parents of these birds are of two different breeds.
  • Layers
    Adult chickens which produce eggs.
  • Pipping
    The process by which the chick breaks into its air sac before hatching.
  • Poult
    The common name given to a young Turkey.
  • Pullet
    A layer which is less than a year old.
  • Setting
    The process of placing an egg in an incubator to commence their development.

Your Bird - Anatomy

Inside of your Chicken

Outside of your Chicken

 
 
 
 

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