8 Common Reasons for High Poultry Mortality and How to Stop it

dead chickens in a poultry farm

Have you been experiencing very high poultry mortality in your farm?

Honestly, you are not the only farmer whose birds are dying sporadically.

But, after this article, you will be one of those farmers who record very low deaths in their poultry farm.

This is because this article will expose everything that can cause your birds to die.

When you know all the reasons birds die in your poultry farm, you will know how to curb the deaths.

dead chickens in a poultry farm

It is very important for you to know that the success of your poultry farming business depends on how knowledgeable you are about poultry farming.

So, if you are a beginner, you need to first learn how to start a poultry farm.

For now, let’s get into the meat of this article.

I will take you through step by step and explain the causes of sudden death in chickens.


It is true that every living thing must die. But it is abnormal for any living thing to just die mysteriously.

There are some factors that cause the death of chickens, some of which are preventable.

Once you know these causes of death in poultry, you will take necessary actions to avoid its future occurrence.

Here are some of the factors that cause the death of birds in a poultry farm:

1. Stress caused by long transportation

Well, stress is one of the major killers of chickens in most poultry farms.

Unlike transporting snails and larger animals like cattle, goats and pigs, transporting chickens can very stressful on the birds.

The stress chickens experience when you are moving them from the hatchery, over a long distance, to your farm can lead to their untimely death.

Also, mature chickens can still die when you transport them over long distances to the market.

The truth is, as a human being, you may be able to endure the stress of travelling very long distances.

A chicken may not survive it.

Almost everything during the course of the trip can kill the birds.

If you protect the birds against one, another factor is lurking to kill them.


Here are some the factors that stress birds during transportation

  • The harsh weather
  • Bumps and gallops on the road
  • Inadequate water and food supply 
  • Too much wind from the speed of the vehicle
  • Smell of petrol
  • Vehicles fumes etc

You need to protect the birds against all of these when hauling them for a long journey.

The best way to prevent your birds from dying due to stress of transportation is to buy chicks from nearby suppliers.

Also, when you ship your mature chicken, make sure it’s within a reasonable distance away from your farm.

2. Increased mortality as a result of heat stress 

Heat stress in chickens occurs when the birds have difficulty achieving a balance between the body heat they produce and body heat loss. 

This can occur at all ages and species of poultry birds.

Heat stress in poultry production can greatly hamper production and reduces the profitability of your poultry business.

When chickens are experiencing heat stress, they tend to leave feed and take more water to maintain homeostasis.

Staying off feed further contributes to stress, thereby affecting the productivity of the birds negatively.

3. Lack of proper vaccination program

It is a good farm practice to vaccinate every new flock of birds you stock in your farm.

This will help to prevent an endemic disease outbreak which can lead to loss of birds in the poultry farm. 

Proper vaccination is very important because chickens are susceptible to many infectious diseases.

Diseases such as Newcastle disease, fowl pox, fowl typhoid etc can be very fatal in birds.

They cause stress to birds and reduce feed intake. 

These diseases also affect growth and in severe cases can result in the death of the birds.

Proper vaccination implies that you give the birds the correct dosage of the vaccine according to prescription.

Make sure to store vaccines properly according to specification. 

Some vaccines may require refrigeration to maintain its effectiveness.

So, do your best to store them accordingly and away from any form of contamination.

dead chickens caused by bird flu outbreak in poultry farm

4. Feeding the birds with poor quality or bad feed leading to death

As a poultry farmer, if there is one thing you shouldn’t compromise, it is the quality of your poultry feed.

We all know that feed cost takes about 70% of production cost in poultry farming. 

Because of this, many farmers easily fall for the temptation of compromising the quality of their poultry feed.

Some farmers tend to mix good quality feed with lower grade feed. 

Many others feed their chicken with a feed that is unfit for chicken consumption; resulting in poor growth performance and death.

There are different feed for different stages of birds. 

At each stage, the birds require a certain composition of feed to enhance their growth and survival.

The starter chicks require high protein in their feed more than the grower and finisher birds. 

Also, layers need high protein content in their feed to enhance egg production.


If, for instance, the layer birds do to eat protein-rich feed, it will affect their egg production.

Besides affecting their egg production, the chickens will start suffering from malnourishment.

As a result, they will not be able to combat against sicknesses and diseases in their body.

So, providing the birds with nourishing feed will help boost their immune system against death-causing diseases.

More still, store all feeds in a cool dry place. 

Store from water which will spoil the feed by causing it to grow moulds, making it unfit for the birds.

Avoid adding too much fat and oil components in feed formulation to prevent rancidity

If you feed your birds with such feed, it may result in a respiratory or digestive problem which could possibly lead to death.


5. Poor quality poultry housing offering little protection

Just the way human beings need shelter over their head is the same way poultry birds need shelter.

A proper poultry house should be able to protect the birds from pests, predators and thieves.

It should also be able to protect the birds from extremely harsh weather like cold. 

When constructing your poultry house, make sure to cover all holes using chicken wire.

Most predators usually find their way into the poultry farm through those small holes.

Also, make sure the poultry housing has proper cross ventilation that will prevent suffocation and death of the birds.

6. Over-crowding of poultry farms leads to the death of birds.

Over populating the poultry farm can lead to so many harms on the birds. 

When you overpopulate your poultry farm, the birds will begin to die of suffocation.

In addition, there will be a lot of competition in the farm leading to the survival of the fittest.

The birds will compete for everything; feed, water, resting place and proper ventilation.

As a result, some of the birds will resolve to cannibalism or causing injury on other birds.

Once your poultry farm begins to have birds with sores on their skin, it will expose the entire flock to danger.

Bacterial and viruses can easily enter through the sores and then spread like wildfire on the farm.

The outcome will be a disaster for your investment and profits.


7. Improper hygiene on the farm producing diseases

Let’s face it, a lot of farmers maintain very low hygiene on their farm.

Diseases can enter the farm through the workers, feed, water, new birds, visitors and/or wild or stray birds.

Many farmers do not even care to take stock of the number of birds on their farm.

That way, when a bird dies, they will not know until several days after the carcass is stinking.

When you don’t take measures to protect your farm, diseases will be brought into your farm and infect your birds.

To prevent this, make sure you always sanitize your farm properly.

Make sure that you use proper protective wears and a boot.

Ensure you sterilize everything that enters the farm area where you keep your birds.

Also, wash feeding trays and drinkers regularly.

You must also wash your farm coats and clean your boots thoroughly.

A clean litter-leads-to-low-poultry-mortality

8. Poor litter management

A proper poultry farm management is one of the best things you can do to prevent any form of death in your poultry farm.

Because harmful bacteria thrive well in a wet litter, it is very important to keep an eye on that.

Birds can easily pick up these bacterial from the wet litters and cause a serious issue on the farm.

As they peck the litters the may be infected by harmful bacteria resulting in illness and in severe cases lead to mortality.

In addition to bacterial diseases, a wet and dirty litter emits ammonia gas which can be very dangerous to birds.

When the ammonia level in the air exceeds 25 ppm, it may result in a lot of stresses in the birds.

Problems like irritation of the eyes and nasal membrane, poor feed intake, and slow growth rate may result. 

Other infections such as coccidiosis and respiratory diseases like coryza, bronchitis etc may even attack the birds.

Even at lower levels, below 15ppm, ammonia still has a bad effect on birds. 

So, it’s best to avoid concentrating the air on the farm with ammonia by taking care of wet litters immediately.

Other problems wet litters cause in birds are; dirty feathers, footpad, lesion and breast bruises/blisters.

Parts of the bird having these type of problems are mostly rejected after processing the chicken meat for sale.

Now that you know the different causes of death in poultry birds, what are you going to do next?

Leave your comments if this was helpful for you and don’t forget to share this with someone.

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  1. very helpful information..I’m inspired to start my own poultry business. Thank you

    1. Mbazu Chibuzor says:

      Awesome. I wish you success.

  2. great information sir. itis averyusful and enlightend information and guide line for the bigenners who are planning for poultry keeping. thank you soo much. regards.

    1. Mbazu Chibuzor says:

      You are welcome, Kiran.

    2. I am a victim of the poor litter management.
      Thank you for this great information
      My knowledge have increased

    3. Mbazu Chibuzor says:

      Awesome. I am glad you got value in this article.

  3. it enlightened me more. i’ll take proper caution on these outlined issues. thanks alot

    1. Mbazu Chibuzor says:

      You’re welcome, Chuquez

  4. Interesting and educating, pls,try to state some vaccine suitable for some diseases.

    1. Mbazu Chibuzor says:

      That will come in a subsequent article. Please stay tuned.

  5. Infact I really appreciate this you have really made my day. Thanks allot

    1. Mbazu Chibuzor says:

      You are welcome, Leo

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