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Six ways to prevent poultry disease

1. Keep Your Distance.

Restrict access to your property and your birds. Consider fencing off the area around your birds to form a barrier between them and possible contamination. Allow only people who take care of your birds to come into contact with them. If visitors to your property want to see your birds, be sure they wash up first and clean their shoes. Better yet, keep clean boots or shoe covers for visitors to wear.

2. Keep It Clean.

Germs can be picked up on shoes and clothing and moved from one area to another. Keep your birds germ-free by designating a pair of shoes and a set of clothes to wear only around your birds or clean and disinfect your shoes and launder your clothes before you check on or work with your birds. Keep cages clean and change food and water daily. Clean and disinfect equipment that comes in contact with your birds or their droppings.

3. Don't Haul Disease Home.

Car and truck tires, poultry cages, and equipment can all harbor germs. So, if you travel to a place where other birds are present, or even to the feed store, be sure to clean and disinfect these items before you return to your property. Taking some of your birds to a fair or exhibition? Keep those birds separated from the rest of your flock and watch them for at least two weeks after the event to ensure that they didn’t pick up a disease. New birds should be kept separate from your flock for at least 30 days.

4. Don't Borrow Disease from your Neighbor.

Do not share birds, lawn and garden equipment, tools, or poultry supplies with your neighbors or other bird owners. If you do bring equipment, tools, or supplies home, clean and disinfect them before they reach your property. Also, remember to clean and disinfect borrowed items before returning them

5. Know The Warning Signs of Infectious Bird Diseases.

Many bird diseases can be difficult to diagnose. Signs that your birds may be ill include:

  • Sneezing, gasping for air, coughing, and nasal discharge
  • Watery and green diarrhea
  • Lack of energy and poor appetite
  • Drop in egg production or soft- or thin-shelled, misshapen eggs
  • Swelling around the eyes, neck, and head
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs, and legs
  • Tremors, drooping wings, circling, twisting of the head and neck, or lack of movement

6. Report Sick Birds.

Do not wait to report unusual signs of disease or unexpected deaths among your birds. Call your agricultural extension agent, local veterinarian, the state veterinarian, or U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Veterinary Services office. USDA wants to test sick birds to make sure they do not have a serious poultry disease. USDA operates a toll-free hotline (1-866-536-7593) with veterinarians to help you.