Health Management in Backyard Poultry : A Focus on Indigenous Traditional Knowledge

Shanmathy Muthuvel (1), Beulah Pearlin. Vand (2) and G. Prabakar (3)
M.V.Sc Scholars, Ph.D Scholar
ICAR-Central Avian Research Institute, Izatnagar-243122, Uttar Pradesh, India

Corresponding author email: [email protected].

Largeshare of the rural poor is dependent on poultry for foodand incomehence growth in poultry sector can contribute to enhanced nutrition and poverty reduction in India,.The native chicken varieties adopted in free range backyard conditions for centuries contribute about 11% of total egg production in India.The total poultry population in the country has increased by 12.39% over the previous census and the total poultry in the country is 729.2 million numbers in 2012. Out of which about 31 million Desi adult male chicken and 57 million Desi adult female chicken were present in rural backyard poultry which constitute about 12 % of the total poultry population ( livestock census, 2012).According to the 2006 National Sample Survey (NSS) Report on Livestock Ownership (GOI, 2006a), the landless, marginal and small scale farmers, which account for about 90 percent of the 107 million agricultural households in India, own 85 percent of the poultry stock of the country. The Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2012) of the Government of India stated that investments in backyard to leads to increased contribution of poultry to povertyalleviation.GOI targets GDP growth rate of 9 percent per year, the livestock sector is expected to grow at between 6 and 7 percent per year, with poultry growing at 10 percent per Year.           Specific improved varieties of birds are now available forbackyard rearing for meat or eggs and few varieties for both (dualpurpose). Some of the popular rural poultryvarieties in the country are Gramapriya, Vanaraja, Srinidhi, Kuroiler, Kalyani DK, CARI-Nirbheek, CARI-Shyama, UPKARI, HITCARI, Krishna-J etc.

Importance of health management in backyard poultry systems :

              Though native and improved birds reported to have better immune competence, they need to be protected against certain diseases likeRanikhet disease, Marek’s Disease, Fowl pox, Gumboro disease and parasitic infestations under backyard and free ranging conditions. Other diseases that may affect the poultry birds are Coccidiosis, infectious coryza, Salmonellosis etc. For better health care in backyard poultry farming the birds should be timely vaccinated and dewormed as and when required. Among vaccinations, ND vaccination must be the most important one to be considered in backyard poultry.
Suggested Vaccination Schedule for the Rural Birds
Vaccination Schedule for Vanaraja / Gramapriya birds

Age (days)





Marek’s Disease

0.20 ml


In the nursery

5thor 7th  day

Ranikhet Disease (Lasota)

One drop

Eye drop

14th day

Infectious Bursal Disease(Georgia)

One drop

Oral drop

21st day

Pox ( Fowl Pox)


I/M or S/C

28th day

Ranikhet Disease (Lasota)

One drop

Eye drop

In the field

9th week

Ranikhet Disease  Repeat every 6 months interval

0.50 mL

Eye drop or pellet

12th week

Fowl Pox  Repeat every 6 months interval



Thermo stable Oral Pellet Vaccine against Newcastle Disease.:
If disease is endemic, ND control through vaccination is generally a very cost-effective intervention .Commercial vaccines become unsuitable for backyard poultry because of heat labile nature and large doses availability. A vaccine which can be easily administered in feed is required for ND control in free range chickens

  • Vaccine contains live D58 strain of Newcastle disease virus in pellets made up lactose,

amaranthus dye and starch. 

  • The oral pellet vaccine is highly useful. It is easy to handle and administer.
  • The oral pellet vaccine has to be administered at the rate of two pellets per bird of more than

10 days old and the dose should be administered within two and a half and three months interval.

  • Product presented as vials containing vaccine granules of 25 doses.

              Mosquitoes can be controlled by removing stagnant water, pouring oil or kerosene on stagnant water.Deficiency of protein, vitamins, minerals and vital amino acids and insufficient energy in feed cause poor growth and ruffled feathers. Vitamin A deficiency causes respiratory symptoms and conjunctivitis. A vitamin B deficiency causes paralysis and neuritis. A vitamin B2 deficiency causes curled toe paralysis, manganese and choline deficiency causes slipped tendon disease.

Biosecurity tips

  • Disease free, improved strain, dual purpose poultry birds may be procured for back yard poultry farming.
  • Periodical vaccination should be done on regular basis.
  • Clean drinking water and fungus free feed should be supplied to the birds. FAO considersfood and water management as a biosecurity hazard to backyard poultry.
  • Overcrowding should be avoided.
  • Sick bird should be immediately separated/ culled from healthy flock.
  • Poultry equipments particularly waterer and feeder should be regularly cleaned and


  • Alternate sources of high protein content like grasshoppers, earthworms, termites, mermaid cricket meal and algae like spirulina, azolla can be fed for tolerance to combat viral diseases.
  • Initially protecting the chicks and feeding creep feed and offering shelter to protects from airborne predators can be considered.
  • The birds should be free from predators and should not be scared by other animals.
  • Before procuring new flocks the shed should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
  • During summer and winter months the shed should be protected from hot or cold wind by hanging curtain/ wet gunny bags around the side of the wall or shed. In summer months water sprinkling also can be done or shady trees can be grown near coop.
  • Effective disinfectants include chlorhexidine, sodium hypochlorite (6%),
  • Age and species separate rearing of poultry/consideration for single species rearing.
  • Try to avoid taking birds to (or bringing birds home from) all shows and exhibits. If new birds are introduced onto your farm, keep the new birds separate from your flock for one month and look for any signs of disease.
  • Newly introduced birds must be quarantined for two weeks prior before joining the flock to allow a time lag for any disease to reveal itself.
  • Mix a solution of three parts bleach to two parts water, and use it liberally to clean rubber boots and equipment brought onto your farm.
  • Wash surfaces with soap and water, rinsing well, before applying disinfectant.
  • Burning or deep burial disposal method of dead birds is one of the strongest recommendations

Tables are provided below please scroll down.

Indigenous traditional knowledge in health care of backyard poultry

Newcastle Disease


Turmeric powder

1 tsp in 2 lit water


Respiratory symptoms- gasping, nasal discharge, greenish diarrhea, torticollis

Ground garlic leaves mixed  in feed

6-7 nos / 10 birds

Potassium Permanganate

3 - 4 drops in water


Gasping seen in Diphtheritic. Blisters/ scabs eruptions in cutaneous form

Black- pepper seeds
(twice a day for 3 days)

Chick – 1 seed
Adult birds – 2 to 3 seeds

Dry seeds of mature chili pepper
(for 3 days)

Chicks – 2 to 3 seeds/ day
Adult birds – 5 to 10 seeds/ day

Cough and cold

Nasal discharge, swollen sinuses, gasping.

Turmeric rhizomepowder

1/2 tsp / lit water

Crushed garlic cloves

1 clove / bird / day

Fenugreek seeds

10 g / liter of boiling water

Chopped onion

1/4  / bird / day

Ginger/ Adhrak

juice of 10g ginger with 250 ml of water and 10 g of brown sugar.. Add 3 tablespoons of the mixture in the drinking water each day /10 birds

Andrographispaniculataor kalmegh.

Boil with 2 liters of water till 1 liter is left. Soak 2 handfuls of uncooked milled rice in this water overnight. Feed to chicken next morning mixed with other feed.

Plain Yogurt with Live and Active Cultures

Probiotic and source of calcium


Boilhandful of leaves in 1lit of water


Off feed, watery fecaces, can be viral ,bacterial or protozoal infection

Crushed garlic cloves and turmeric rhizome in feed

7-10 cloves and fingernail sized turmeric rhizome / 10 birds

Garlic + onion bulb +cumin seeds +fenugreek seeds +dry turmeric rhizome in feed for 2-3 days

7-10  garlic cloves + 1 onion bulb + 5-10 gcumin seeds + Thumb-sized turmeric rhizome


Myrsticafragrans/ jathiphala fruit

Grind 1/4 of a dried mace.
Grind 1/4 of a dried mace

Azimatetracantha/ needle bush/ Kanda-gur-kamay

Grind a handful of leaves or roots and mix with yoghurt and add to feed

Sesbaniaaegyptiaca/ janathiseeds in feed

5 g of seeds


Stunted growth, poor appetite.

Fresh turmeric rhizomejuice
as drinking water(once every month)

250 g

Groundfresh cloves of garlic infeed (Repeat once every month)

6cloves /10 birds for 1-2 days



Raw papaya sap
(containsbenzylisothiocyanate- show efficacy towards roundworms)

Mix 5 parts of sap with 1 part of water. Give 2-3 teaspoons of liquid (1015 ml) for every 10 chickens for 5 days



Heat air-dried Areca crèche (supari) nuts

Put a pinch of powder of ground areca nuts in the mouth of each bird once a day for a week.



Centratherum (=Vernonia) anthelminticum (Black Cumin/ kallijeeri)

Seed extracts showed efficacy against some ascarid roundworms (e.g. Toxocaravitulorum) and threadworms (e.g. Strongyloides).



Raw Pumpkin Seeds
(cucurbitacin paralyses tapeworm and round worm)

Offer ad libitum

Heat stress

Gullar flutter, carcass of dead birds show cooked appearance.


4 tsp sugar/ lit of drinking water



Anemia, dull , scaly legs in mite.

Diospyrosebenum/Ebnus/ ebony

Dry leaves hung in shed or coop



Dry tobacco leaves (do not allow birds to eat tobacco)

Dry leaves hung in shed or coop

Ocimum sanctum/ thulsi

Dry leaves hung in shed or coop

lemon grass (Cymbopogoncitratus)

Dry leaves hung in shed or coop



A mixture of 2 parts neem (leaves or oil), 1 part of salt and 1 part of ash

Rub on the birds' skin



A mixture of I part of salt and 2 parts of mustard oil

Rub on the birds' skin



driedAnnonasquamosa (seethaphal, custard apple) seeds.

Rub on the birds' skin



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