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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture

USDA FAQ's and resources about coronavirus (COVID-19).  LEARN MORE

Defend the Flock - Biosecurity 101



By practicing good biosecurity, you can reduce the risk of people, animals, equipment, or vehicles carrying infectious diseases onto your property – either accidentally or on purpose. You will also help protect other flocks by preventing the spread of disease.

Biosecurity refers to everything people do to keep diseases – and the viruses, bacteria, funguses, parasites, and other microorganisms that cause disease – away from birds, property, and people. It includes:

  • Structural biosecurity: measures used in the physical construction and maintenance of coops, pens, poultry houses, family farms, commercial farms, and other facilities.

  • Operational biosecurity: practices, procedures, policies that are consistently followed by people.

Biosecurity is a team effort. Everyone involved in raising poultry must use structural and operational biosecurity to prepare for and prevent disease outbreaks throughout the United States. Put simply: we have to work together to protect our flocks.

What can you do? You can practice biosecurity each and every day. By practicing good biosecurity, you can reduce the risk of people, animals, equipment, or vehicles carrying infectious diseases onto your property – either accidentally or on purpose. You will also help protect other flocks by preventing the spread of disease.

  • Keep visitors to a minimum. Only allow those people who take care of your poultry to come in contact with your birds, this includes family and friends. Keep track of everyone who is on your property at all times. Make sure everyone who has contact with your flock follows biosecurity principles.

  • Wash your hands before and after coming in contact with live poultry. In addition to potentially spreading disease from farm to farm or bird to bird, you can also spread germs such as Salmonella that can impact human health. Wash with soap and water (always your first choice). If using a hand sanitizer, first remove manure, feathers, and other materials from your hands because disinfectants will not penetrate organic matter or caked-on dirt.

  • Provide disposable boot covers (preferred) and/or disinfectant footbaths for anyone having contact with your flock. If using a footbath, be sure to remove all droppings, mud or debris from boots and shoes using a long-handled scrub brush BEFORE stepping into the disinfectant footbath, and always keep it clean. 

  • Change clothes before entering poultry areas and before exiting the property. 
    Visitors should wear protective outer garments or disposable coveralls, boots, and headgear when handling birds, and shower and/or change clothes when leaving the facility.  

  • Clean and disinfect tools or equipment before moving them to a new poultry facility. Before allowing service vehicles, trucks, tractors, or tools and equipment—including egg flats and cases that have come in contact with birds or their droppings—to exit the property, make sure they are cleaned and disinfected to prevent contaminated equipment from transporting disease. Do not move or reuse items that cannot be cleaned and disinfected—such as cardboard egg flats.

  • Look for signs of illness. Know the warning signs of infectious bird diseases.

  • Report sick birds. Don’t wait. If your birds are sick or dying, call a local veterinarian, cooperative extensive service, or state veterinarian. Call USDA toll-free at 1-866-536-7593.

For more information about biosecurity practices, including checklists you can follow, visit the Defend the Flock Resource Center


       



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