Salmonella are gram-negative bacteria that reside in the intestines. There are many different species of salmonella, all preferring to inhabit different species.
Testing your birds for salmonella involves the testing of faeces. In order to more accurately assess the status of your flock it is important to collect faeces produced over five to seven days because salmonella is not shed into faeces every day.
Why is salmonella important to be aware of?
Two species – Salmonella Typhimurium and Salmonella Enteritidis – are of importance in backyard poultry as they may infect humans. They can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever of varying severity if ingested. The chicken, however, will show no symptoms.
These bacteria are reportable, meaning that should there be a case confirmed through testing it must be reported to the government for them to take the appropriate action in controlling it.
There is a national control plan (NCP) in place for the monitoring of these salmonella species in commercial flocks. This is relevant to you if you are selling eggs through a third party. Legally, you should also register your flock with the government if you have more than 50 birds. If you have less than 50 birds it is optional. If you have less than 50 birds and you are only performing at the gate sales or giving away to friends and family then you do not have to take part in the NCP. More information can be found here: Uk Government website.
Can salmonella cause disease in chickens?
There are some species of salmonella that may cause disease in chickens, but not in people. These are not part of the NCP.
Birds infected with these species will show the following symptoms:
Decreased egg production
Birds with ruffled feathers in a hunched position
Sometimes lameness with swollen hocks
Poor hatchability and young chick survivability from breeding flocks