Biosecurity for Backyard/Exhibition Poultry
As a poultry grower, we know you care deeply about keeping birds healthy. By practicing biosecurity, you can help reduce the chances of your birds being exposed to animal diseases such as avian influenza (AI) or virulent Newcastle disease (vND). And you can help protect the spread of infectious diseases like these to other flocks.
"Biosecurity" may not be a household word. But for poultry growers like you it can spell the difference between health and disease. Biosecurity means using common sense practices. It’s a commitment to defending the health of the nation’s flocks each and every day.
Here are the basics:
- Keep visitors to a minimum. Only allow people who care for 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 does have 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, remove manure, feathers, and other materials because disinfectants will not penetrate organic matter or caked-on dirt.
- Provide disposable boots (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.
- Change clothes before entering the 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 any 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. Items that cannot be cleaned and disinfected - such as cardboard egg flats - must not be moved or reused.
- 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. USDA can be reached toll-free at 1-866-536-7593.
With disease threats on the rise, biosecurity is more important than ever. Infectious diseases such as avian influenza and virulent Newcastle Disease lead to the deaths of millions of birds and vast financial losses. Poultry can also carry germs such as Salmonella, which leads to thousands of hospitalizations and kills hundreds of people in the U.S. every year. Disease outbreaks also result in job and financial losses, quarantines limiting trade, and higher prices on eggs, prepared poultry, and other staples.
The Defend the Flock education program provides the tools and resources that you need to make sure that you are doing everything possible to keep your birds healthy and reduce the risk that an infectious disease will spread from your property to other flocks. Defend the Flock resources reflect the knowledge, insights, and experience from USDA, veterinarians, professional owners and growers, scientists, and other experts.
Defend the Flock incorporates the research-based practices used by commercial growers across the country. Disease outbreaks harms everyone – from cancelled poultry shows, auctions, fairs and exhibits, to quarantines limiting trade, to job and financial losses. Use Defend the Flock to gain practical tips for elevating basic biosecurity steps to the highest levels of disease prevention. Biosecurity is a team effort. We all have to work together to defend our flocks.
National Poultry Improvement Plan — 14 Principles
The biosecurity strategies supported by the Defend the Flock program are based on 14 principles in the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP). You may know the “six simple steps” for biosecurity. These expanded principles, developed with input from USDA, veterinarians, scientists, commercial owners and growers, and other experts, reflect the very best practices in disease prevention.
The principles break down the basic biosecurity steps into specific tactics. For example:
- Personnel: Everyone who handles your birds should use personal protective equipment. This includes like washable footwear or shoe covers, gloves, and hair coverings. Check if visitors have been in contact with wild birds, pet birds, or have their own poultry. If so, they should not go near your flock.
- Pest control: Keep wild birds (including feathers and feces), rodents and insects away from your birds and their enclosures, feed and water supplies. Be extra careful during wild bird migration season to protect your flocks from infectious diseases.
- Equipment and vehicles: Clean and disinfect equipment that comes in contact with your birds or their droppings. Do not share tools, poultry supplies, or lawn and garden equipment with other flock owners or neighbors. Define paths where trucks, vehicles, and other equipment can travel to access your poultry area.
Biosecurity is a team effort. We all have to work together to defend our flocks. Use the Defend the Flock checklists and resource materials, webinars and other educational programs to make sure your daily and seasonal routines do double-duty to prevent the outbreak and spread of disease. All materials are available at the Defend the Flock Resource Center.
Commercial Poultry | Backyard/Exhibition | Wild Birds | Pet Birds
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