After witnessing the disruption caused by this year’s avian influenza outbreak, every farmer should ask themselves if their biosecurity plan is strong enough to protect their birds through the Autumn/Winter months.
Preventing disease from entering your farm, and protecting others by preventing disease from leaving your farm, is absolutely critical to creating a long term disease free environment.
Some diseases are unapparent, and others can kill all of your birds. Developing a good biosecurity plan and adhering to it is the best way to limit the introduction of infectious diseases and parasites into your flock.
DECREASE YOUR RISKS OF DISEASE SPREAD
– Limit visitors from accessing your pens. Do not visit other poultry facilities.
– Confine birds to a fenced area and limit contact with wild birds, mammals, and insects as much as possible.
– Do not share equipment, supplies, or vehicles with other bird owners.
– Clean and disinfect all coops, equipment, shoes, clothes, and vehicles properly, every time, before entering poultry areas.
– Practice “all in, all out” when changing flocks. Get rid of all birds and disinfect the coop before getting any new birds.
– Keep rodents, flies, dogs, and cats out of the chicken coop and feed.
– Check for parasites monthly and treat if necessary. Use a dusting area to prevent external parasites.
– Never introduce adult birds into an established flock unless they pass quarantine (3 to 4 weeks of isolation) or are tested clean of disease.
– Never mix different species in the same flock. Mixing species (e.g., chickens and turkeys or with waterfowl) on the same premises can be a deadly combination.
BEST PRACTICES ON THE FARM
– Make sure everyone that cares for your birds understands and abides by all biosecurity plans for your flock.
– Wear separate dedicated clothing and shoes when working with your birds.
– Clean up any spilled feed and discourage wild birds from accessing feed and your bird pens.
– Watch for signs of infectious disease in your birds.
– Never access your birds after hunting, fishing, or coming in contact with any other birds or areas that wild birds frequent.
– Never buy birds from unknown sources like auctions or other live bird markets.
– Care for and visit birds in the order of bird age– youngest first to oldest last.
– Always care for sick pens last or, better yet, have a separate person care for sick birds.
SIGNS OF SICK POULTRY
If Birds: –
– Stop eating and drinking
– Show signs of droopiness or lack of energy
– Have watery eyes or nostrils, and make rattling or wheezing sounds when they breathe
– Die suddenly without clinical signs
– Have poor balance and/or abnormal head and neck positions
– Have diarrhea
– Have decreased egg production or produce soft-shelled or misshapen eggs
– Exhibit swelling or purple discoloration of shanks, head, eyelids, or comb
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE SICK BIRDS
– Place your premises under voluntary quarantine from all visitors.
– Do not buy, sell, trade, or move any of the birds off your premises.
– As soon as possible, double-bag and refrigerate (do not freeze) dead bird(s) and contact the veterinary diagnostic laboratory for further directions on submission. You may be directed to take live birds with symptoms and/or take or ship recently deceased birds to the lab.
– Do not visit farms or businesses that are frequented by people that have birds.
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