Keeping Poultry Flocks Healthy

CANADA - Uncontrolled visitors can pose serious biosecurity risks such as introducing diseases like avian influenza into backyard poultry flocks, says Dr. Gerald Hauer, assistant chief provincial veterinarian with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.
calendar icon 8 April 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

“Bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing pathogens can be carried on boots, clothing, vehicles and equipment,” he says. “So we need to be careful about who and what we let near our flocks.”

There are some simple biosecurity steps that, if followed faithfully, will greatly reduce the chances of birds becoming infected with a new and potentially serious disease.

  • Friends, relatives and visitors should park away from the poultry and not travel on foot or in their vehicles to areas where birds are located. This is particularly important if visitors have their own flock, have visited other producers or have been to facilities that house livestock.
  • If producers wish to take people through the poultry area, give them a pair of boots or disposable booties and a clean pair of coveralls.
  • Ask feed, pharmaceutical, equipment, and veterinary suppliers for their biosecurity procedures. Businesses that travel from farm to farm should ensure disease cannot be spread through their vehicles, boots, equipment and clothing.
  • Post signs on gates and doors to remind people that access is restricted. Lock the doors to barns so people cannot walk through unannounced and unsupervised.
  • Make sure visitors from other countries take the necessary precautions against transmitting disease agents to your birds. Many serious poultry diseases exist in other parts of the world and not in Alberta.
“Most businesses have areas that are off-limits to the public,” says Dr. Hauer. “No customer would think of walking into the kitchen of a restaurant, onto the floor of a manufacturing business, or through a construction zone. Producers have a right, and a responsibility, to practice good biosecurity – it is simply good business practice.”
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