Be a Flock Defender!

Biosecurity is the key to keeping our Nation’s poultry healthy. USDA’s Defend the Flock education program offers free tools and resources to help everyone who works with or handles poultry follow proper biosecurity practices. These practices will help keep your birds healthy and reduce the risk of avian influenza and other infectious diseases. Biosecurity is everyone’s job. Become a Flock Defender today and help us protect all flocks!

Biosecurity 101

The U.S. poultry industry is one of the largest in the world and an important sector of our agricultural economy. Disease outbreaks can devastate flocks, impact trade, cause job and financial losses, and affect prices on eggs, prepared poultry, and other staples.

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.

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, and policies that people follow consistently.

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.

  • 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), disinfectant footbaths, or both 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 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.

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