Outbreaks of avian flu have small-flock poultry owners on high alert. Michigan State University Extension experts say that proper handling and good sanitary practices will protect birds from avian influenza and other diseases.
“Biosecurity is not just for large farmers,” said Darrin Karcher, MSU Extension poultry specialist. “When it comes to keeping birds safe from disease, it is equally important for small flocks. Those housed outside are especially vulnerable to risk of contact with wild birds, their feces and feathers.”
Karcher says the accidental transmittal of the virus from wild birds to domestic poultry, such as chickens and ducks, can be avoided by following a few simple rules.
“No. 1 is to keep your birds in the coop to limit their exposure to wild birds. Also, have clothes and one pair of shoes that you wear in your coop and nowhere else,” he said. “Walking through an area where an infected wild bird has been and then walking into your own coop could be a devastating mistake.”
Karcher also advises people to wash their hands before and after handling their birds, to clean and disinfect all equipment before new birds are introduced, and to keep visitors away from their flock.