Chicken Coop Chatter©
Originally published, January 8, 2015 http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/biosecurity-coop/
With all the talk about outbreaks of avian flu in British Columbia and then crossing the border into Washington State and Oregon, it’s important to once again emphasize biosecurity.
Good health practices in and around the coops and from coop to house are paramount. This particular virus does not currently affect humans, however every precaution should be in place to wash your hands and change your clothes and leave your boots outdoors when you move from the coop to the house. Your boots are important to note, because they are tracking pathogens everywhere you walk.
Good Biosecurity Practices
It would not be a bad idea to have a plastic container with disinfectant in it that you can step into before walking into coops and when walking out of coops. Make sure this container has a tight fitting lid so there is no risk of animals drinking from it or falling into it. It is also a good idea to have disinfectant wipes in the coops and at the doors as you enter and leave. Instruct children to wash after handling any chicks or gathering eggs and do not allow others into your coop and run areas; especially if they too are chicken owners. If you are not able to change your clothes, then at least wear an apron or something to cover your clothes that is easy to remove after you leave the coop. Always wash hands before handling any food, before handling small children or caring for adults with compromised immune systems
Reducing Exposure For Backyard Chickens
Though this virus is reportedly being spread by migrating water fowl, it is fatal to backyard chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl and pheasants. If you are free-ranging your birds, there is a higher risk of them contracting this virus and it spreading throughout your flocks. This is not to say that birds in chicken runs will not be affected, they just have less of a risk. If you have free-ranging flocks, you may need to put them in lockdown as one preventative. In other words, no free-ranging until this disease is under control. If you bring in new birds, be sure to quarantine for at least two weeks and we recommend an entire month. It takes 10 to 14 days for most viruses to manifest, so a two week quarantine is the absolute minimum. One important note is that this pathogen can remain in the soil in a warm environment for a long period of time, and in freezing weather indefinitely, so it will not leave the environment any time soon.
If you have a body of water nearby, your flock has a higher risk of contracting the disease. From reports we’ve read, many of the birds are showing no symptoms one minute and laying on the ground expired the next minute. They continue to eat and drink and are active right up to the time they die. This will make it very difficult to detect. However others that do show symptoms, may have swelling of the eyes or head, a bluish colored comb, respiratory distress, diarrhea as well as lethargy, loss of appetite and lack of activity. But if you come across any of these, call your local vet, agriculture department at a university or fish and wildlife agency at the earliest opportunity. These cases need to be reported in hopes of preventing the spread of the disease.
Good Habits Help Everyone
Even if you have a small flock, it is important that you adhere to good health habits; these pathogens have no boundaries and no borders. They will spread from your flock to your neighbor’s flock to your local commercial flock. So we all need to be vigilant and do our part to prevent the spread of this and any other illness and diseases. With everyone working together, using good biosecurity practices, it will be far easier to detect and eradicate the spread of this and other illnesses.
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