The information below is only our experience. We are not veterinary surgeons so please bear this in mind and seek help from a vet if you are at all worried.

Bacillary White Diarrhoea (BWD)

Salmonella Pullorum

Also known as Pullorum disease and caused by the bacteria Salmonella Pullorum, BWD is fatal to pheasant chicks (as well as other game bird species, poultry, turkeys & guinea fowl). Adult birds may have the disease without showing symptoms and can pass it on to chicks either from direct contact, fecal contamination or through the egg (as the disease is present in the hen's ovaries). Many species of wild birds can be carriers too and infect pheasants with their droppings in the aviary. Flies and rodents are other hosts that could pass on the infection.

Some adult birds may become infected and die quickly from this disease (a postmortem would show signs of the disease) but often mature birds will become carriers. This a horrendous disease with an extremely high mortality rate in chicks under a few weeks old. Because of this birds known to be infected should be culled. Although some treatments can help a bird to overcome symptoms it will continue to transmit the disease to others.

Some symptoms are the same as many other illnesses such as lethary, inappetance and ruffled feathers, droopy wings and having difficulty in breathing. Birds with an increased thirst and chicks or young poults that are thin, not growing well and huddle under heat lamps can be signs of the disease, as can lameness. The symptoms that are most likely going to be obvious with very young birds and the biggest indication of Bacillary White Diarrhoea, is a white pasty vent and upset chicks, cheeping, when trying to defecate. Many deaths of chicks under three weeks old could well be caused by the salmonella pullorum bacteria.

A blood test can be carried out to determine if your pheasants have the disease (this is used for commercial poultry flocks) and will be necessary if you wish to export birds.

By keeping aviaries, feed and water dishes and nest boxes etc clean, by taking care to buy in only strong healthy birds, and sadly, also by culling any infected birds, you will give your chicks a good chance of staying free of BWD and living a good, long, and healthy life.


Botulism is caused by a bacteria Clostridium botulinum and is easily avoidable. Although associated mainly with dead bodies it is possible for birds to get botulism if they are eating mouldy food. This is a disease which is more abundant in warm summer months as food rots very quickly. Chicks are particularly vulnerable especially with the extra heat and confinement in a brooder box. The bacteria is carried by fly larvae (maggots).

Symptoms of Botulism are paralysis of the legs, wings and/or neck. The bird may well seem wobbly on its feet almost drunk like or possibly unable to look up with its beak getting closer to the floor as time progresses.

If the disease has not reached the last stages it is possible to for the bird to recover. Immediately put the bird in a clean environment and give it plenty of fresh, clean water with bird tonic or health salts added. Make sure it drinks to flush out its system as it must get rid of the poison. Do not allow water to become stale. It must be replenished often.

The infected bird should start to show signs of improvement quite quickly (within 24 hours). Birds should always have access to fresh food and water and old or spilled feed should be removed regularly and often.

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