Avian influenza, or bird flu, has been in news a lot lately. Sadly, chickens that contract this disease will die. Avian influenza spreads very quickly. Wild birds coming into contact with domestic birds is one way the disease is spreading. Extremely tight biosecurity is critical to keeping a flock alive.
Here are some necessary steps that you need to take to protect your chickens from bird flu:
- Protect your chickens from bird flu by limiting access to your birds. Don’t allow visitors into your coop. Only your chickens’ caretaker should access the coop. The flu can be spread indirectly by coming into contact with peoples’ clothing or footwear that has been exposed to an infected bird.
- Wash your boots and hands, and wear clean clothing every time you enter the coop. Keep in mind that clothesline dried clothes could be contaminated while hanging on the line.
- Be sure to clean and sanitize your hands, boots and clothing before going near your chickens if you visit a friend who has birds of ANY kind.
- Do not allow wild birds to have access to your chickens. This means you may have to keep their run covered, and make sure the wire mesh or netting is small enough to keep wild birds out. The flu can be spread directly, bird to bird. If you pasture or free range your birds, you may want to rethink that for the time being, especially if the flu has been reported in your area.
- Obviously, keeping a clean coop is critical.
- If you notice a sick bird, isolate it immediately. Signs to watch out for are: lack of energy or appetite, nasal discharge, coughing and sneezing, diarrhea or purple discoloration or swelling around the head, comb or wattle.
- If your birds are exposed to other birds(at a fair or some other show, for example) they should be isolated and watched for signs of illness before they rejoin the flock.
- New birds must be isolated for 30 days before they are put in with the flock.
- If you borrow or buy used equipment, be sure to clean and sanitize it thoroughly. The flu can also be spread indirectly by manure, vehicles, or equipment that has been exposed to sick birds.