Winter and Poultry Diseases

The transition from the warm summer months to the cold winter months has posed challenges for many poultry farmers in Namibia.

Between May and September, farmers often encounter various health issues among their flocks.

To reduce the risk of poultry deaths, farmers need to be aware of the following: The change in weather conditions has a direct impact on the welfare of poultry, making them susceptible to diseases.

This usually leads to massive mortality losses. Winter typically exposes chickens and other poultry birds to wind and cold stresses, which can affect their respiratory systems.

Farmers are advised to use winter covers to close the windows of poultry coops to minimise the amount of cold wind entering the house or reaching the birds.

Where there is no poultry house, chickens and other poultry birds are exposed to harsh weather conditions, and if they are reared under free-range production where they fend for food daily, this may result in slow growth rates among the flock.

The winter season always affects the success of brooding in many poultry operations using alternative energy sources which may be unreliable during winter.

The standard brooding period is usually 14 days, but during winter farmers are urged to brood chicks for 21 days and the floor must be insulated with cover comprising wood shavings, mulch, or straw at a depth of 7,5 cm.

This may eliminate the possible occurrence of pneumonia, which usually results in chick mortality. Newcastle disease and infectious coryza and a range of other ailments become more evident in poultry flocks, therefore, farmers are urged to vaccinate chickens with the appropriate vaccines, such as ND Clone 30 and Nobilis Coryza before winter becomes intense and leads to the demise of unvaccinated chickens.

During winter, poultry birds require more feed to generate heat and keep themselves warm.

Inadequate feed amounts can weaken their immune systems and render them vulnerable to diseases.

It is essential to increase the daily feed requirements of chickens to at least 20g per day during the winter months.

Additionally, on severely cold nights when temperatures are forecasted to be below 8 degrees Celsius, it is essential to reintroduce brooding heat bulbs (165 W, poultry-specific bulbs) in the chicken coops to keep the room temperature warm and avoid mortalities.

To ensure the well-being of poultry birds during the upcoming winter season, farmers should prioritise regular vaccination and feeding their poultry properly.

Additionally, it’s crucial to maintain a clean and favourable environment for the birds to thrive and minimise the risk of potential health issues or fatalities.

  • * Hanks Saisai is the technical adviser on crops and poultry at AgriBank.

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