WASHINGTON — USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service offers the following steps to take to protect birds, and maintain biosecurity practices - following the basic three-step guideline to look, report and protect.
- Keep your distance
Restrict access to your property and your birds.
Consider fencing off the area where you keep your birds and make a barrier area if possible. Allow only people who take care of your birds to come into contact with them.
Do not let visitors bring any of their birds near your flock.
Game birds and migratory waterfowl should not have contact with your flock because they can carry germs and disease.
- Keep it clean
Wear clean clothes. Scrub your shoes with disinfectant.
Wash your hands thoroughly before entering your bird area.
Clean and disinfect equipment that comes in contact with your birds or their droppings, including cages and tools.
Remove manure before disinfecting.
Properly dispose of dead birds.
- Don't haul disease
Car and truck tires, poultry cages and equipment can all harbor germs. If you travel to a location where other birds are present, or even to a feed store, be sure to clean and disinfect these items before you return to your property.
To prevent, don't mix young and old birds or birds from different species or different sources.
- Don't borrow disease from your neighbor
Do not share equipment, tools or supplies with your neighbors or other bird owners.
And never share items such as wooden pallets or cardboard egg cartons because they are porous and cannot be adequately cleaned and disinfected.
- Know the warning signs of infectious bird disease
Many bird diseases can be difficult to diagnose. The list below includes some of the things to look for that signal something might be wrong with your birds.
1. Sudden increase in bird deaths in your flock.
2. Sneezing, gasping for air, coughing and nasal discharge.
3. Watery and green diarrhea.
4. Lack of energy and poor appetite.
5. Drop in egg production or soft-or thin-shelled misshapen eggs.
6. Swelling around the eyes, neck and head.
7. Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs.
8. Tremors, drooping wings, circling, twisting of the head and neck, or lack of movement.
Early detection of signs is very important to prevent the spread of disease.
- Report sick birds
Don't wait to report unusual signs of disease or unexpected deaths among your birds. Contact your local Cooperative Extension agent, veterinarian, poultry diagnostic lab, or USDA Veterinary Service office (which can be reached at 866-536-7593). This toll-free hotline has veterinarians on hand to help.
More information can be obtained at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/defend-the-flock-program.