Fungal infections have become more widespread with the use of antibiotics and tend to prey on birds with lower immunity. The use of antibiotics also kills the naturally occurring body flora residing in their system, which leads to a weakened immune system.
Although the testing can be costly, it is sometimes worth learning if fungal infections are impacting the health of your flock. Fungal infections will not respond to antibiotic treatments, and often make the infection worse.
What is a fungal infection?
Causes of fungal infections
- Moldy feed (especially processed feeds or corn)
- Wet bedding material, even after it has dried. *ALWAYS remove bedding after it has been moistoned.*
- Spores in the air or own surfaces
- Wet weather, often combine with heat and humidity.
- Poor sanitation
- Contact with another infected bird
- A bird's weak immune system
Symptoms of fungal infections
- Weakness from intenstinal fungi that can cause damage to the digestive track organs.
- Overall uncoordination of the bird.
- Difficulty breathing, gurgling noises and respiratory symptoms. Air passages may be restricted by fungi adn teh bird isn't able to use panting to cool down as well as normal.
- Bird losses interet in eating and may lose weight
- Some bright green, watery droppings, also known as vent gleet. The droppings may stick to the vent area.
- Reduction in laying and infertility
- Death can occur from a prolonged and/or severe infection
Treatments and prevention
- Do not feed your chickens anything moldy, including kitchen scraps. Feed needs to be fresh and be sure to always check the dates of your feed to ensure freshness. Less than one month old is a good rule of thumb.
- Keep birds in a well-ventilated area.
- Keep litter as clean as possible. Sand makes a good floor in coops. If you have a hard surface floor in your coop, such as concrete, it is imperative to frequently clean and disinfect it. PDZ and Red Lake Earth DE may also be beneficial.
- Raw, fresh garlic is a great antifungal. Mix it into their feed.
- Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar mixed into their water can also help prevent infections.
- Probiotcs can be a good way to introduce more bacteria to kill fungi, but be sure to follow the directions on the package. Do not use probiotcs and medications simultaneously.
- Veterinarian testing can narrow down the type of fungal infection your bird has an prescribe an appropriate medication.
Types of fungal infections
Moniliasis (sour crop, thrush):
Symptoms: This is a disease that primarily affects the upper digestive tract of all birds and is charaterized by whitish, thickened areas of the crop and proventriculous, erosions in the gizzard, and inflammation of the vent area.
It is caused by a yeast-like fungus (Candida albicans) and poultry of all ages are susceptible to its effects. Chickens, turkeys, pigeons, pheasants, quail and grouse are most commonly affected, as well as domestic animals and humans. The Candida organism is widely spread and is found throughout the world. Moniliasis is transmitted by ingestion of the causative organism in infected feed, water or environment. Unsanitary, unclean water can be a nesting ground. It grows especially well on corn and so infection can be introduced by moldy feed. This infection has no specific symptoms. It does not spread directly from bird to bird.
Symptoms: frequently death.
This is a very lethal disease caused by ingesting the toxins. It is known that certain strains of fungi (molds) growing in feed or feed ingredients can produce the toxins that cause this disease. These toxins may also occur on litter. These toxins are very toxic and rival the botulism toxin for toxicity.
Several types of fungi produce toxins that may cause problems in poultry, but of primary concern are substances produced by the Aspergillus flavus fungi (aflatoxins). This is a common mold that grows on many substances and grows especially well on grains and nuts. Keep litter and feed as clean as possible.
Prevention: Mycotoxicoses may be prevented by careful choice of feed raw materials, reduction in water content of the raw materials and hygienic storage. Feeds with high levels of fishmeals are particularly susceptible and should not be stored for more than 3 weeks. Pelletising feed may reduce fungal counts but does not affect toxins. Certain minerals additives have been shown to bind mycotoxins and reduce their effects. Good stock control, management of feeders and bins, and avoidance of feed spillage are all important.
Symptoms: Most healthy birds can withstand repeated exposure. Inhalation of large amounts of teh mmold or reduced resistance of teh brids results infection. The chronic form in older birds usually results in loss of appetite, gasping or coughing and a rapid loss of body weight. Mortality is usually low and only a few birds are affected at one time.
Aspergillosis has been observed in almost all birds and animals, including humans. The organisms are present in the environment of all poultry. they grow easily on many materials such as litter, feed, and rotten wood through with which the bird The disease is observed as either:
- An acute form in young birds with a high mortiality
- A chronic condition in adult birds
Prevention: Dry, good quality feed and litter and good hygiene.