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Poultry Health and Welfare



Large chicken
Photo by Linda Coffey

Preventative practices are used for natural poultry health management. Reducing stress will help the bird's immune system and includes good management, adequate spacing, proper temperature, ventilation and litter conditions, good nutrition, and clean water for the birds. Vaccines help prevent infectious diseases, and biosecurity measures also help prevent the introduction of diseases and include procedures used to contain or prevent spread when diseases occur. In organic production, no drugs, antibiotics, growth promotants, or synthetic parasiticides are permitted. Maintaining a healthy gastro-intestinal (GI) system is a vital component of drug-free production. Natural intervention involves strategies such as the use of prebiotics, probiotics, and competitive exclusion to alleviate GI problems. Sanitation between flocks is particularly important and a downtime of 2-3 weeks will help control pathogens that need a host to survive. The house and equipment, including water lines, feeders, nestboxes, and roosts, should be cleaned and sanitized.

Interest in programs to ensure animal welfare is growing. The large-scale poultry industry participates in welfare programs that ensure a minimal level of well-being for the birds. There are also programs that promote a high level of welfare. Small growers usually provide outdoor access for welfare reasons.

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This page was last updated on: January 26, 2015