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Morgan Watts column: Practice biosecurity with poultry operations

By Morgan Watts
N.C. Cooperative Extension

Even though it’s winter time, spring will be here before we know it, and along with that will be when most people buy new birds or chicks. It’s always a good idea to practice safe biosecurity in your backyard poultry operations. Below are six tips when you think about biosecurity in poultry and things that you should be practicing in your flock.

Keep everything clean. This could be for a variety of things. You need to wash your hands before and after being around your birds. It is also recommended you wear different clothes and shoes when entering your birds’ pens. Some people just prefer to disinfect their shoes and change their clothes to help keep things simple. This will keep you from tracking in germs to your birds. You should also keep your cages and pens clean and disinfect all feeders, waters, etc. regularly.

  • Your vehicle can transmit diseases. If you travel to another farm, fair or place that sells live birds, you should make sure to wash your vehicle before returning home. Also, make sure the inside is free of manure and dirt.
  • Quarantine new birds. Any new birds brought in should be quarantined at least 10 meters away from your existing flock for a minimum of 6 weeks. This will keep any issues your new bird may have from being transferred to your flock. You should also keep in mind to take care of your existing flock before going to the quarantine area to keep from transmitting things through your clothes.
  • Keep a boundary fence up to help eliminate ways for wild water fowl to enter your area. Anything you can do to keep wild birds out will help you out.
  • Know the warning signs of a sick bird. Early detection can prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Increase in sudden bird deaths
  • Sneezing, coughing and nasal discharge
  • Lack of energy and poor appetite
  • Tremors, drooping wings, circling, twisting of the head and neck or lack of movement
  • Watery and green diarrhea
  • Drop in egg production
  • Swelling around eyes, neck and head
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, comb and legs
  • Report any sick birds or any increased mortality to state health officials. It’s always a good idea if you have a bird show up sick or if you are experiencing increased mortality to consult the state veterinarian to see what may be going on.

If you have any questions concerning biosecurity in your poultry flock, contact Morgan Watts at 704-216-8970.

Morgan Watts is livestock agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension.

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