Biosecurity for the birds

newspaperAll bird owners, whether they have a small backyard flock or a large commercial operation, should make biosecurity part of their daily routines. Consistent biosecurity practices are the best way to prevent diseases such as Avian Influenza (A.I.) and Exotic Newcastle Disease (END).

Simply put, biosecurity is a set of procedures intended to protect humans or animals against disease or harmful biological agents. And it is the key to keeping birds healthy.

The following steps can help you keep your birds healthy:

  • Keep your distance– Isolate your birds from visitors and other birds especially waterfowl and shore birds.
  • Keep it clean– Prevent germs from spreading by cleaning shoes, tools and equipment.  Have designated clothing and footwear that you only wear in your poultry house or farm.
  • Don’t haul disease homeand do clean vehicles and cages whenever traveling.
  • Don’t borrow disease from your neighbor– Avoid sharing tools and equipment with other bird owners.
  • Know the warning signs of infectious bird diseases– Watch for early signs to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Always buy from a reliable source  – The National Poultry Improvement Program (NPIP) offers voluntary disease certifications, and chicks from a hatchery that have been certified as disease free are less likely to introduce diseases onto your farm.
  • Consider testing birds or knowing the flock NPIP status for diseases of concern before adding them to your flock.
  • Report sick birds– Report unusual signs of disease or unexpected deaths to VDACS.

Remember that you are the best protection your birds have. Making biosecurity a part of your daily routine while caring for your birds can decrease the chance of END or AI showing up on your doorstep.

Dr. Richard Wilkes, State Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), reminds bird owners that good biosecurity and advance planning will reduce the chances of spreading an infectious disease by people, animals, shoes and clothing or equipment. He also encourages show managers to have a proper biosecurity plan that will help prevent and respond to poultry diseases at the show.

For more information about biosecurity measures and plans, contact the State Veterinarian’s Office at 804.692.0601 or your local Office of Veterinary Services at the Regional Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory in your area. See the Laboratory Services section of the VDACS website for local numbers.

VDACS posts all of its news releases on Facebook and Twitter. To receive immediate updates, follow us on Twitter @VaAgriculture or like us on facebook.com/VaAgriculture.

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