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This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
Raising chickens or other birds for their eggs and meat is a popular family and business activity almost everywhere in the world. The birds eat grain, seeds and grasses. They also eat small pieces of food that people throw away. Many of these materials would be wasted if the birds did not eat them. Chicken eggs and meat contain high quality protein and other substances important in the human diet.
For many centuries, chickens were allowed to run free to find food for themselves. Then people used fences to keep small groups of birds from running away. After the chickens were kept inside a fence, people had to provide food for them.
Early in the last century, raising flocks of thousands of birds became a successful business for many people. But the size of these flocks caused some serious problems, including pollution caused by chicken waste.
Disease is one of the biggest problems in large flocks. The birds are kept close together all the time. So if one bird becomes sick, the sickness spreads. All the chickens in a flock can die from a serious disease. Avian flu, for example, can in some cases also spread to humans.
Diseases that affect chickens are different in different areas of the world. One current example in Asia is an outbreak of avian flu in South Korea. Troops have been helping to kill and bury chickens and ducks that became infected at farms in North Chungcheong Province.
To help prevent disease, experts advise these steps: Feed the birds a balanced diet. This will help them resist infections. Do not add adult birds to your flocks. If you must add adult birds, keep them separate from the flock for five to fifteen days to make sure they are healthy.
Cover the floor of the buildings where the chickens are kept with material like straw, rice husks or sawdust. Change this material often.
After you sell the chickens, completely empty the building where they were kept. Clean and wash the building. Then leave it empty for four weeks before putting in new chickens.
Diseases affecting birds are not simple to understand and treat, so expert medical advice is important. You can get more information about caring for chickens and other birds from Volunteers in Technical Assistance. VITA is on the Internet at v-i-t-a dot o-r-g.
This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Gary Garriott. This is Steve Ember.