Commercial and Backyard Poultry Keepers Urged to Review Biosecurity in Light of Potent Avian Flu
March 31, 2022 - There have been no detections in Arkansas to date in wild birds or poultry flocks. However, an Emergency Rule that became effective on March 23, 2022 and in effect for 120 days prohibits the exhibition of poultry and waterfowl in Arkansas and requires that free range and backyard poultry be confined under roof or inside structures to prevent contamination from infected migratory birds flying overhead or direct exposure to wild birds. The rule also prohibits movement of poultry or domestic waterfowl from or within an affected area. The rule is in effect for 120 days starting March 23, 2022.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recent HPAI detections in birds do not present an immediate public health concern. No human cases of these avian influenza viruses have been detected in the United States. As a reminder, the proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 ˚F kills bacteria and viruses.
Biosecurity is a very important tool to use to prevent entry of a disease into your flock. It is extremely important that anyone involved with poultry production should review their premise Biosecurity procedures and protocols. This should be done by small backyard hobby flock owners and growers of commercial poultry to protect the health of their birds. Commercial poultry growers should follow company Biosecurity guidelines and work closely with their flock supervisors.
Hobby/ backyard/ small flock owners can follow these procedures:
Recognize the signs of illness.
You as the poultry owner know your birds and in fact you probably look at your birds more than once a day. As such you can detect early signs of illness such as a change in the bird’s behavior; you just know that your birds are just not acting right.
There are many poultry diseases but typically some of the first signs of illness are:
- a drop or cessation of egg production
- lack of appetite
- sneezing, gasping
- drop in water consumption
- discharges from the eye and/or nostril
- ruffled feathers, huddling
- bird keeping to itself
Do Not Bring Disease Home With You
If you purchase new birds make sure you look at them closely (even if from a reputable source) to check for signs of illness. This also is correct if it is your own bird returning from a poultry exhibit. Admittedly, poultry exhibitors are trying to place at a show and a sick bird does not win. Unfortunately, it is possible that a bird could still be incubating a disease and some diseases cause few signs unless a bird becomes stressed. It is always best to isolate (quarantine) new and returning birds away from your home flock for a period of at least 30 days. Most diseases should manifest within this quarantine period. Isolate the birds as far away from your home flock as you can (at least 100 feet, if possible) and be sure and care for these quarantined birds last. Since equipment such as crates, nest boxes, etc could be contaminated with feces, exudates, cages, etc that contain disease organisms it is best to not borrow equipment. If that is not possible then thoroughly clean and disinfect the equipment before taking it onto your premise and before and after usage. If you visit an area where there are waterfowl (such as ponds, lakes, and hunting) or areas with poultry make sure you change clothes and shoes and wash your hands before checking on your birds.
Clean and disinfect.
Keep poultry facilities clean and free of weeds, debris, spilled feed etc. In addition, clean areas around your poultry pens and facilities
Practice good vermin control.
Mice and rats can carry diseases that can infect your birds. They can also attract snakes. Fly, buffalo gnat, and mosquito control are also important since these insects can carry and spread diseases. Wild birds should be excluded from your poultry pens as well. Secure poultry pens are necessary to exclude other wildlife, which may be predators of your poultry or could bring in diseases. Although not vermin, pets should also be kept out of the poultry pens.
Keep away/Restrict visitors
Visitors could accidentally contaminate your poultry. Restrict visitors to your farm/poultry facility. Have all visitors clean their shoes/boots and disinfect before visiting your poultry flock. A pair of boots for visitors to wear and a pair you wear just around your birds are even better. Keep your poultry pens and facilities locked to prevent access.
Get Help/Report the Unusual
If you see something in your flock unusual or is “just not right” get help immediately. Contact your local veterinarian, local county extension agent, Extension poultry veterinarian, state veterinarian, or USDA hotline. If you have a bird die contact your state or university diagnostic laboratory about submitting the bird for testing.
For more information visit the APHIS Defend the Flock Resource Center
For questions on poultry diseases, care, and husbandry contact: your local county Extension office or contact the numbers listed below:
- F. Dustan Clark, DVM, Arkansas Extension Poultry Veterinarian:
- Terry Conger, DVM, Poultry Health /Epidemiologist:
Terry.H.Conger@aphis.usda.gov, 501- 224-9515
- John G. Nilz, DVM, Arkansas State Veterinarian.
firstname.lastname@example.org 501- 297-2250