As in all other classes of livestock, illness is liable to occur among fowls, however ably managed, owing to influences over which the poultry-keeper has no control.
On account of the varying climatic conditions to which poultry are subject in this country, and the transmission of disease from one generation to another in many races of domesticated fowls, the poultry-keeper who does not experience sickness among the stock is extremely fortunate. The predisposing causes of disease are mainly due to lack of vitality in the fowls. If regard is paid to all the laws of hygiene in the poultry-yard, only the minor ailments to which fowls are subject will occur; but if stock of a doubtful character is secured, and managed in a haphazard manner, then one must expect, sooner or later, to experience illness and loss. The secret of success attending the keeping of fowls lies in clean, sound foodstuffs, healthy quarters, regular attention, and the quick observance of the symptoms denoting illness. Undoubtedly, many fowls die annually from diseases caused through negligence. If the birds are heard to sneeze occasionally during spells of inclement weather, the attendant often treats the matter lightly, hoping that the fowls will get right when the weather improves, with the result that the sneezing becomes more frequent, and the minor ailment, that could have been easily cured, develops, through neglect, into roup of a contagious nature, to the endangerment of the whole stock.
The first thing to do with a sick fowl is to remove it from its companions, and to place it in some light and airy structure for treatment. Every well-conducted poultry farm should have its hospital, some healthy, isolated resort to which sick fowls can be taken for treatment. The structure need not be an elaborate affair, but it should be lofty, light, airy, and damp and draught proof. It should be a place devoted only to the sheltering of sick fowls, and no other class of poultry. It should not be utilised for the storage of anything likely to account for a dust-laden or ill-smelling atmosphere. The interior temperature should be on the cool rather than on the warm side, as warmth, in many cases, fosters rather than prevents disease. The front of the structure should be provided with removable shutters, so that, in warm weather, the fresh air and sunlight may be allowed to enter freely. Provision must be made for the patients, in the form of lath-fronted pens, so that any particular cases may be treated separately.
When in position the pens should stand midway between the floor and ceiling of the building, as in such a position the purest air will be provided for the patients. Both the building and the pens should be thoroughly well limewashed and disinfected before being occupied and immediately after cases of a contagious nature have been dealt with.
To some minds such an equipped building may seem unnecessary, in face of the fact that most cases of illness in fowls are treated without its use, but it may be said that it is well nigh impossible to doctor fowls properly without isolating them. To visit the roosts at night and administer doses of medicine to sick fowls is to court trouble. If such fowls are left free to eat and drink with the rest of the flock they will not only be hustled about and rendered incurable, but they will be liable, in cases of contagious illnesses, to transmit disease to their companions.
Every case should be isolated for treatment, no matter how simple its nature. Let us suppose that a fowl is suffering from a minor form of indigestion, which is curable by a timely dose of liver pills; such a bird should be isolated for treatment, for the simple reason that, if left with its companions and fed on hard grain, the medicine administered would have little or no effect. Isolate the patient, and assist the medicine to do its work by feeding it on soft, easily digested food, and a cure will be effected. There are very few ailments of poultry that do not lead to the debilitation of the digestive organs, and, therefore, sick fowls should be fed on foods easy of assimilation. Medicines are not the chief factors in the restoration of sick fowls to health. To have a curative effect upon the patients, they must be used in combination with good nursing and a proper diet.
Diet for Fowls when Ailing
When doctoring fowls for any serious ailment, such as roup or any ailment of an infectious nature, hard grain foods should be avoided. Stiff oatmeal porridge made with milk, bread-and-milk, biscuit meal scalded with milk, bread pudding made with milk, or any other kind of soft food that is light and nourishing, may be given to fowls under medicinal treatment for internal ailments. Groats boiled in milk, in addition to the above foods, may be mentioned as an excellent food for ailing fowls. To be continued.