Diseases in chicks: Most Common diseases to watch out for.

Sick chicks: What are the causes?

  • Ignorance to biosecurity.

chicksThis is the number one cause of diseases in baby chicks. The immune system of chicks is underdeveloped and a lot of care is required to ensure the survival of the chicks to adulthood. Biosecurity simply means the basic practices that are done to support the survival of a living being. In this case, the chick. Ignorance of biosecurity measures has proven to be the top reason for increased mortality rates in baby chicks. How can this be solved? Farmers must stick to biosecurity measures by coming up with strict rules that govern chick management and general farm hygiene. Installing foot baths and handwashing stations are some of the ways in which biosecurity is enhanced either in a poultry farm or a hatchery.

  • Inbreeding.

This is the mating of individuals or animals that are closely related to each other. In this case, inbreeding can cause the development of genetically weaker chicks than the rest. A farmer must pay close attention to the selection of his or her breeding stock. Failure to do so will cause an increased mortality rate within chicks. Farmers may not know the reason why chicks may be dying once this happens. But when it does, the best solution would be to get a new breeding flock.

The process of incubation is a tedious one. It requires a farmer to carefully determine the appropriate temperature for the development of chicks. Fertilized eggs must be carefully handled to avoid contamination. Contamination is the main cause of a bad hatch, delayed hatch, or premature hatch. Chicks that hatch during these stages tend to not survive to adulthood. These chicks may also be regarded as weaker than the rest of the chicks and may succumb to diseases faster than the other chicks. So, manage your fertilized eggs well to ensure a healthy and successful chick stock!

  • Cold.

The cold is a threat to every poultry farmer in the world. You could say that chickens are naturally adapted to the cold because they have feathers. Very true… but, chicks are too young to have developed feathers to keep them warm. So, they need a little extra source of heat from either a broody hen or an artificial brooder. The cold is the most common cause of death in chicks under two weeks old.

  • Natural carriers.

Natural carriers are natural threats to the security of chicks in general. The average disease carrier can be a bird, a scavenger or even the poultry farmer themself! That is why it is very important to practice biosecurity within the poultry coop or chicken house so as to ensure a safe environment for the chicks. Natural carriers of infectious diseases like Newcastle disease can be natural elements like the wind as well.

What are the most common diseases in chicks?

1. Infectious Bronchitis.

This is a quick killer for little chicks and unfortunately has no vaccine. Infectious Bronchitis is a respiratory disease that affects chicks to show symptoms of suffocation and gasping for air.

2. Pasty Butt.

This is a common problem in chicks that have a problem with their digestive system. Basically, from the name, pasty butt is a condition where chick poop gets stuck around their vent. It causes accumulation, blockage, and the eventual death of the chick. To stop this, or to cure it, farmers are advised to use liquid paraffin. Pasty butt is common in younger chicks so, there is no need to worry about adult chickens catching this disease.

3. Mareks

Mareks is not so common. But it is deadly. And keeping a large number of chicks will require you to have the mareks vaccine at the top of your list. Mareks is a disease that causes paralysis of the chick’s body and limbs. Common symptoms of mareks in chickens are blindness and the general paleness in the eyes.

4. Newcastle

This is one of the deadliest diseases that I have ever encountered within a flock. Newcastle disease is a virus affecting chicks and adult chickens that kills a large number of birds in the shortest time possible. It is highly infectious and can be easily spotted. Chicks affected by the Newcastle disease will not be able to be salvaged since their immune systems are quite feeble. The only solution for the Newcastle disease is to vaccinate chicks in advance.



Desmond Wekesa is the director of Agripreneur, with experience in new methods of farming and digital marketing. His background in digital marketing informs his mindful but competitive approach in the online-agriculture space. Desmond is fueled by his passion for understanding the best methods to network and achieve ones goals of advertising. He considers himself a ‘forever student,’ eager to both build on his knowledge in agriculture and stay in tune with the latest digital marketing strategies through continued hard work. You can email him HERE.