Farmers top image

Want to increase poultry production? Vaccinate and debeak on time

By Alex Wachira
Fredrick Makokha and his wife Lilian Ayuma feed their Chicken at their home at Mahondo. [Duncan Ocholla, Standard]


Under the beds of poultry farmers is a book tucked away from the world – how to produce quality products -- such as big tasty eggs.

But many fall short of the desired qualities as they lack healthy birds.

Unknown to them, the route to the goldmine might be hidden in following requisite vaccination schedules and beak trimming or debeaking.

Debeaking is reducing the length of the beak of a bird and is a good practice as it has many benefits.

It prevents cannibalism, a situation where stressed birds start biting each other, often in overcrowded bird coops. Heat in such crowded pens has also been linked to raising the stress levels.

Poultry experts add that lack of adequate nutrients in the body like amino acids also causes cannibalism. In other cases, when birds are injured some birds get curious and they start pecking each other.

Unless contained, this leads to death.

Vent pecking

Debeaking, which shouldn’t be translated to removing the entire beak, can also help reduce vent pecking and egg eating. Normally birds are debeaked at day one by slightly trimming the beak then repeated later on at 12 weeks.

This is as much as it prevents wastage of feeds as the sharpness of the beak is reduced which they pour food with, cutting down the cost of feeds.

Not all rosy

Debeaking although necessary, has side effects such as pain for the chicken as their nerves are in the end of the beak which are very sensitive.

Often, the birds get stressed after debeaking and most will not feed or take water thus it’s good to lower the feeders and water cylinders for easy access.

The birds also lose weight due to less feeding which affects the health therefore delay in laying by one or two weeks.

How to do it

The best time to debeak is usually at 12 weeks because then, the beaks are usually softer and there is less breeding.

Improper debeaking can cause the beak to grow back. The best way to debeak is to make sure that the three quarter of the upper beak and quarter of the lower are cut.

This now ensures the beak will take a long time before it grows back.


There are different types of vaccines and application.

Some are applied orally - the farmer puts the vaccine into drinking water and the birds drinks it.

Injection is divided into two. Subcutaneous injection involves the drugs injected under the skin while in intermuscular injection, the bird’s muscle is injected.

Lack of vaccination leads to reduced production, stagnated growth which all leads to low profitability to the farmer.

Common poultry diseases are Newcastle, infectious bronchitis and gumboro, foul pox, foul typhoid and salmonella.

The Newcastle can kill 30 to 50 per cent of the flock and sometimes all. Newcastle vaccination is applied through orally and has to be boosted every three months as it is a live vaccine.

Gumboro is an infectious bursal disease that mainly affects young chickens characterised by immunosuppression and mortality at three to six weeks of age.

Birds are vaccinated depending on where the farmer bought the birds, some will be vaccinated between six and eight weeks but it varies.

The routine of bird vaccination should be Newcastle, Gumboro then repeat them again then foul pox.

When the chicks are small at three weeks you have to give them Newcastle vaccine orally then at 35 days then at four months with an injection.

Hygiene is a key factor to keep diseases at bay.

A farmer should avoid water spillage in the room to avoid creating a breeding ground for bacteria.

Farmers are advised to have a veterinary, agro vet and to follow the vaccination program. Be keen on the lookout for any unique signs of sickness and call a veterinary as soon as possible. 

If there is any death take it for post mortem to establish the death to prevent more mortality.


Related Post

Nathan Ochunge -
Grace Chomba -
John Shilitsa -
Nathan Ochunge and Hellen Miseda -
© Copyright 2020 - The Standard Group PLC