Fowls catching up disease can be a headache to everyone of us. Dealing with them is more painful but is a must. The diary of a poultry farmer helps us resolve these issues, courtesy of the Daily Nation.
I received this text message from Cleophas, my farm manager.
“I have isolated eight chicks out of the 320 in room six upstairs. The symptoms include watery discharge from the eyes, pimples on the combs, wattle and eyelids, but the appetite is ok.”
“Have you informed the vet,” I enquired. Indeed, he had and the vet attributed the problem to cold weather and advised we move the chicks aged five weeks from the upper room to the lower one, which is warmer.
Deep down, I suspected I was dealing with more than the effects of cold weather.
I started reflecting on the emails I receive from readers seeking my advice on many issues relating to poultry farming. In particular, farmers describe symptoms of their sick birds and ask what to do.
Being on the periphery of agricultural sciences, I always refer them to animal experts even when I think the symptoms they are dealing with mimic a condition I have dealt with.
I have always resisted temptation to proffer solutions to appear knowledgeable and helpful. Overtime, this policy has served me well.
No doubt, it is a good thing to consult the experts. However, I have also come to learn that even the best trained professionals sometimes give conflicting advice.
When in doubt, I always seek second or third opinion.
Now, to understand why sometimes you need to trust your intuitions, even as you seek a second opinion, please read further.
Two days later on August 3, I received another message from Cleophas indicating that the infection was spreading to other chicks and 15 had died.
At this point, I asked him to seek a second opinion. Like most farmers, the only option available was at the nearby agrovet.
After an hour, I received a text message from Cleophas indicating that the agrovet operator, a vet technician, wished to speak to me directly.
When I called back, she said, “From the symptoms, you are dealing with fowl pox.” Of course this contradicted the advice I had received days before when the problem was linked to the cold weather.
Fowl pox was the last diagnosis on my mind because, from my reading, it affects much older birds and vaccination against this disease is not due until week six.
I was also sure I was not dealing with Gumboro because I had administered vaccines at Day 10 and 18.
Was I dealing with Newcastle Disease? Probably.