The information below is only our experience. We are not veterinary surgeons so please bear this in mind and seek help from a vet if you are at all worried.

Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is a disease caused by a protozoa (Coccidia) and is spread through bird droppings. Like many parasites they thrive in warm damp conditions so it is important to keep brooder boxes clean and dry and chicks should not be overcrowded as these poor sanitary conditions are heaven for Coccidia. Young chicks are the usual victims, mainly because, by the time the birds are around three months of age they will have built up an immunity to the protozoa.

The best and easiest way of avoiding this common and often fatal disease is by using a coccidiostat in the chick food. Avatec is usually used in the UK and with a prescription from the vet can be added to the crumb or pellet. This medicine controls the parasite rather than killing it which helps the chick to develop an immunity to the coccidia.

Symptoms of Coccidiosis are: Diarrhoea (sometimes with blood present), the chicks infected may have dirty or wet vents, lethargy & little interest in food or possibly even water. Also any bird not growing well or possibly looking pale could have the disease. Unfortunately these symptoms are rather general, with the exception of the blood which may not always be there, which is why we like to use a preventative medicine like Avatec. This way all the chicks are protected and coccidiosis can be discounted if we have problems with any of our chicks.

Worms

One of the most frequent cause of problems in pheasants and luckily also one of the easiest to deal with are worms. There are numerous types of worm which inhabit different parts of the birds body. The most common worms are: gape worms, caecal worms, hair worms and round worms. The good news is flubenvet will deal with them all. It will kill all stages of the worms life cycle.

Like usual, prevention is always best however where worms are concerned to do this completely will prove difficult. Your pheasants will easily pick up worms from earthworms, slugs, flies and beetles or from wild bird droppings. By keeping aviaries clean and not heavily stocked there will be less abundance of parasites which will help greatly. You can keep your birds in a sterile environment to stop transmission but as we prefer a more natural home for our own birds, where they can happily peck at any insects etc., they come across within their aviary, that course of action is not a viable option for us. We rely on worming our birds regularly and flubenvet is the licensed drug to use in the UK. We worm our birds at least three times a year. As with the coccidiostat (Avatec), we have it added to the pheasant pellet during production by the feed merchant. It is by far the simplest way to make sure our birds get what they need. We feed very little in the way of treats during the week they receive their wormer, to make sure they eat enough for it to work properly. We tend to worm our birds early in the year before the hens start to lay, after the breeding season is past and the birds are moulting, and again just before winter. It makes sense to worm at these times so the bird's immune system will have less to contend with at times when their body is under pressure (from cold weather, egg laying and moulting). We also sometimes worm an extra time to make sure our young poults are all done once they've been outdoors for a short while and if any birds are looking at all poorly. Even if worms are not the source of illness they can very quickly cause further problems and become out of control if the bird is under any stress. If I was to have access to only one medicine for game birds a wormer would be it. I can't stress enough how vital worming is to the health of game birds.

If any of the following are noticed in your pheasants (or aviary) there's a chance worms are the cause: Bird is gaping, gasping or snicking (like a cross between a sneeze and a cough which is the bird trying to clear their airways) and often stretching it's neck. These are all an indication of gapeworms, that reside in the bird's trachea (windpipe). Listlessness and other general loss of condition Greenish diarrhoea Lameness. With or without symptoms of infection birds will benefit from regular treatment.

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