Backyard Poultry A Growing Trend Throughout US - USDA Offers Pointers on Keeping them Safe

Raising chickens in the backyard is growing more popular as Americans seek a direct connection to their food. But as the number of backyard chickens increases, so does the need to educate owners about keeping their flocks healthy. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (USDA/APHIS) Biosecurity for Birds campaign is renewing its efforts to provide concise and helpful tips to prevent the spread of infectious bird diseases such as avian influenza (AI).

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To keep your birds healthy and free of disease restrict access to your property and poultry

Florham Park, NJ (Vocus) June 2, 2010

Raising chickens in the backyard is growing more popular as Americans seek a direct connection to their food. But as the number of backyard chickens increases, so does the need to educate owners about keeping their flocks healthy. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (USDA/APHIS) Biosecurity for Birds campaign is renewing its efforts to provide concise and helpful tips to prevent the spread of infectious bird diseases such as avian influenza (AI).

Whether you raise poultry for meat and eggs or because you want to show your birds at fairs and festivals; whether you have a big flock or a few hens, keeping them healthy is a priority. Give the birds sufficient space, keep their area clean, keep food and water covered and change them daily. It also is important to keep predators away from your birds and minimize the contact your poultry has with wild birds.

In some countries, high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) or AI and END are of serious concern to flock owners. Both can infect chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, ducks, geese and guinea fowl as well as a variety of wild birds. HPAI can quickly spread through direct contact with infected waterfowl, infected poultry, or water or feed that has been contaminated with the virus. It can strike birds quickly without any signs of infection and spread rapidly.

Low pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) sometimes breaks out in North America, and the worry is that it could mutate to HPAI. That’s why taking precautions against infectious diseases is a good idea for bird health.

USDA/APHIS offers tips to owners on how to keep their birds healthy and free of disease:

  • Restrict access to your property and birds;
  • Wash your hands with soap, water and disinfectant before and after working with your birds;
  • Clean and disinfect your clothes, shoes, equipment and hands after handling your flock;
  • Do not share tools or equipment with other owners
  • Know the warning signs of bird diseases such as avian influenza (AI) and exotic Newcastle disease (END). Early detection is important and can help prevent their spread. Key signs to look for are:
     -Sudden increase in bird deaths among your flock
     -Sneezing and coughing
     -Green and watery diarrhea
     -Lack of energy and appetite
     -Decreased egg production
     -Swelling around the eyes, neck and head
     -Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs (AI)
     -Tremors, drooping wings and neck, lack of movement (END)

For more information, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/birdbiosecurity/

Media representatives may contact Pam Goldstein at pgoldstein(at)diversitymc(dot)com 973-377-0300, Ext. 14.

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