Raising Pheasants Syndicates

Raising Pheasants: Disease Control (Part 9)



This is the last in our series regarding raising pheasants.

There are a number of diseases which if not controlled or catailed run rife in raising pheasants. The best thing to do is to watch your pheasants regularly and note their general demeanour to see how they behave. Note all the things they do regularly so that  you should soon be able to spot any unusual behaviour. That means you must make time to keep an eye on your pheasants. Where  do they dust bath?  or spar with each other?

The number of diseases that affect all avians is large

You do need to watch and observe all of this behaviour. When you have a large numbers of animals living together it is very easy for diseases to spread among the flock, this is not just the case in raising pheasants but in all poultry rearing with chickens; turkeys, ducks or guinea fowl. The number of diseases that affect all avians is large but fortunately enough is known about them that you can deal with it straightaway.

Prevention is always the way to go. You must be meticulous; spotless and fanatical. That means everyone in your syndicate not just the one who looks after birds ‘most of the time’ must be a clean freak. Everyone must be fanatical with their cleanliness. This means the birds must only be fed the freshest food; make sure that everything is disinfected regularly, the feeders and the drinkers particularly in hot weather.

if you are meticulous you ought to forego any tragedies

Check that you’ve cleaned out the brooding house and night pen regularly. Make sure the litter is dry; clean and fresh. Check the temperature. Whilst raising pheasants look at each bird for signs of illness, if you are meticulous you ought to forego any tragedies. However a number of things do come to mind that may help.

If you really have to contact a number of zoos

We will cover these diseases in alphabetical order. Due to the specific nature of these infection we have not provided photographs and symptoms can easily become confused. Always take your birds (live) to see a specialist. We have only covered the most common diseases which affect pheasants and other poultry, if you have any other problems you will need to take your birds to a specialist any large poultry breeder will tell you who they use. Perhaps you need there is a local bird sanctuary, ask the local vets. If you really have to contact a number of zoos and is asked for suggestions for a vet who can look at your sick birds.



Aspergillosis if your birds have aspergillosis it is essentially your fault. It is caused by fungus which grows in wet bedding if your litter has not been changed or drinkers are leaking aspergillosis is sure to follow at some point. The symptoms are the birds  attempting to breathe with a loud rasping noise. Birds die within 24 hours. Prevention is the cure. Clean all your equipment everything and ensure there is dry litter. Your birds cannot be treated. Management and cleanliness are the only prevention methods.

Histomoniasis or blackhead is caused by a minute parasite Histomonas meleagridis  the parasite is spread by a round worm and can spread rapidly to the liver and caecal tracts producing bright yellow droppings. Birds become lethargic tired and eventually die of blood poisoning. As the disease spreads the droppings spread to other birds and can get into your whole flock.

 Clean and disinfect the water supply and in a day or two day the birds should start to improve.

Pheasants can be treated with dimetridazole in drinking water.  Clean and disinfect the water supply and in a day or two day the birds should start to improve. You must now relocate your pens to ensure the birds do not get reinfected again the worms remain on the ground for a number of years afterwards so you cannot relocate the pens there for the foreseeable future.

Coxy or Coccidiosis is caused by another parasite. There are many many different types of these protozoan tends to occur later in the year or with wet weather it is also found in your damp litter. The result on your flock will depend on how many parasites are present and which variety they are. To prevent this occuring the grass in rearing pens must be cut short (as the parasite loves long wet grass) all the birds will cope better than the younger birds.

Most pheasant food includes a coccidiostat which helps prevent this however another drug called have Avatec can be administered. This parasite will kill many birds.

Colibacillosis or E. coli Because of the large numbers of different microbes which live within the bird when other diseases are present or parasites occur E. coli can very quickly kill your birds. Chicks that lose their interest in food and there is an unusual smell around which almost smells like stale Chinese food a day or two old. Adult birds have runny droppings and the chicks off stand quietly. Again this disease is caused by a bad cleaning program. Clean and disinfect everything. Treatment with probiotics may clear this up.

the worms irritate the birds throat

Gapes are particularly unpleasant. A round worm infection which lives in the trachea and windpipe of adult birds both wild and domestic. It causes the birds to cough as the worms irritate the birds throat the treatment is flubenvet  gapex. many wild birds carry gapes so it is best to check your release pen is not based next to large nesting areas of corvids or pigeons.

Mycoplasma is an infection which quickly spreads and within a flock it is spread by drinking water and from bird by sneezing. This and infectious disease can be transmitted through the egg however a good number of birds are immune to this disease. Symptoms are constant wiping of the eyes and discharge from nobles nostrils eventually the eye will close and harden and the bird cannot feed. It will lose sight in it eyes with infectious synovitis the bird has difficulty walking and joints swell.

The smell from the bird’s breath is particularly awful.  If you buy birds in give the birds a good smell all over. Do not put infected birds with your stock and never breed from infected birds. Have good a hygiene schedule. Treatment is soluble Tylan.

Fowl Pest usually has a high mortality rate

Fowl Pest is a particularly unpleasant disease which makes the necks of the birds ‘twist’ or ‘flop’ occasionally birds twitch. Fowl Pest usually has a high mortality rate, but only a few birds may die on occasions. The disease causes difficulties in drawing of breath and often birds are sick with diarrhea and vomiting.

This infectious disease can be spread through water; through the air, bird to bird contact and can be spread through some wild birds too which is often where the infection begins. You can treat the birds thoroughly through the water supply or a mist which can be sprayed on them.

There is no way to treat an infected bird and  you will have to slaughter your flock in the case of an infection. In the UK you must contact DEFRA. Mortality can be low but once birds are infected they will always carry the infection. It is fortunately unlikely to outbreak.

The chicks stand alone and look thoroughly miserable

Salmonella we hear about salmonella quite often is in actual fact there are many types of salmonella bacteria. Dirty or infected food; water, unpleasant hygiene, wild birds and rats all course salmonella. salmonella typhimurium causes chicks to develop white mucus on their vents which eventually clogs up. The chicks stand alone and look thoroughly miserable. Probiotic is the only treatment and you may have low to medium mortality rates.

Hexamitiasis and Trichomoniasis are caused by protozoan parasites found in the intestine, caecal tracts and vents the parasite can only live in live birds. Signs are yellow diarrhoea and loss of weight. The smell too is unbearable indoors. You must take any suffering bird to the vet for diagnosis. There are many treatments amoxicillin and Amoxipen Tetsol all forms of antibiotics.  High mortality rates.

Worms. Many wild birds and poultry suffer from worms. Pheasant and wild birds which are infected do not eat well and lose weight rapidly. Because the birds are in the field is always possible to get a worm infection. Fortunately with flubenvet  which is used to treat worms in humans as well as other animals can be added to food and can improve the situation significantly.

Dia Llewellyn



Raising Pheasants: Part 1

Raising Pheasants: Eggs Part 2

Raising Pheasants: The Weather Run Part 3

Raising Pheasants: The Release Pen Part 4

Raising Pheasants: Pen Construction Part 5

Raising Pheasants: Keeping Pheasants Safe Part 6

Raising Pheasants: Predators Part 7

Raising Pheasants: Predators part 8