Chick Days and a Free Biosecurity Kit for Your Poultry

It is hard to believe that Spring is coming and soon it will be time for chick, poult or pullet orders for the coming growing season. With that in mind it is also time to start thinking about Biosecurity for your birds. It does not matter if you have 60,000 Birds or 6 birds, your birds are an investment… in money, time and emotion and you want to do everything you can to keep them safe and healthy.

What is Biosecurity? It is actions that you can take to prevent and detect disease in your poultry and keep them healthy. In December 2014 we had a small outbreak of Highly Pathogenic H5N2 Avian Influenza in British Columbia. From December 2nd to 19th, there were 12 infected premises both commercial and backyard and all had to be destroyed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

What can you do to keep your birds safe?

  1. Prevent Contact with wild birds and other animals. Not only wild birds, but other vermin such as mice, rats, skunks and raccoons. This also applies to your dogs and cats, etc. With organic production this means having proper netting or bird wire up to prevent wild birds from feeding in your feeders and waterers. This included keeping bird species separate. Do not have turkeys, pheasants, peacocks or other gamebirds in pens or pasture areas that chicken have been on. Chickens can harbour histomoniasis (Blackhead) which is a protozoa parasite that can exist for long periods of time in the soil.
  2. Keep you premises clean- you can harbour pathogens and parasites in soil, litter and other organic matter, thoroughly clean pens, feeders, waterers and other equipment including the shovels you clean with... This includes keeping yourself clean too! Using a good surfactant (soap) will help remove the organic matter on whatever you are cleaning and then followed by an approved disinfectant. Refer to your certification body to ensure you use an approved disinfectant.
  3. Know your birds and spot signs of sickness. Depending on feathering, it might be needed to occasionally pick up birds to feel how well fleshed they are to determine body condition. Also, a drop in water consumption is often the first indicator of your birds becoming ill. Finally, if they become ill, do you have veterinary care available if needed?
  4. Limit exposure to visitors. It is always a source of pride to be able to show off your birds, but visitors can easily be a vector for disease to get into your flock. Better to have fewer visitors, take precautions if you need to have someone visit and use a visitor log to record who has visited, when and for how long. This is not only to protect your birds but to give you a trace back and a warning ability to others that have visited in case your birds do get sick.
  5. Keep new birds to your flock separate at least 28 days. This quarantine period will allow you to monitor these new birds for developing sickness. This also applies to birds that you have taken to shows or exhibits.

If you want more information about biosecurity, OMAFRA has a free Kit called "Keeping Your Birds Healthy, Biosecurity Basics for Small Flocks." It is meant for the non- quota bird holders in the province, but if you have a commercial poultry operation, the concepts still apply to you, too! It explains the concepts of biosecurity, cleaning and disinfection, disease identification, management and control, vermin control, deadstock management and much more. There are factsheets, posters, pamphlets, a weatherproof restricted entry sign, a logbook for visitors and a CD with electronic versions of the above and much more.

Chick Days are coming soon this spring so educate yourself with these free kits by calling OMAFRA's Agricultural Information Contact Centre toll free at 1-877-424-1300.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca