Advice for Small Flock Owners

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By now I think everyone has heard the talk about Avian Influenza (AI) and the impact it has had in the Pacific, Central and Mississippi flyways. The threat comes a little closer to home with the approach of fall. Early fall is the prime times for states in the Atlantic flyway to gain an influx of waterfowl and wild birds during their fall migration. While there is no evidence to say that NC will be directly impacted by AI, it never hurts to be prepared!

During the fall migration (particularly September and October), NCDA&CS has advised poultry owners to keep their birds isolated: from standing water, from wild birds, from rodents, etc. In some cases, this means installing solid fencing or a larger covered enclosure so that your birds are completely secure. Any interaction with wild fowl, in particular with ducks, can be a chance for the spread of disease. You cannot control migratory birds but you CAN contain your flock in a safe environment. High risk areas include: high traffic areas with lots of visitors, surface water, and free range animals.

While biosecurity is always a hot topic for the poultry and swine industries, it should be addressed by everyone even if you only have a few chickens in your backyard. The stricter your biosecurity measures, the less likely you are to have problems. Of course nothing is 100% effective but simply having “chicken” specific clothes and shoes can help prevent the spread. Do not wear these clothes to the feed store, to a local restaurant, etc. but have them specifically for your poultry tasks. Try to minimize visitors to your farm as well, the less people you have going in and out, the better!

Please note that this strain has not been shown to infect humans and any infected flocks do not enter the food chain. All poultry owners, regardless of size, are required to register for an NC FarmID. This will be for animal health purposes only; knowing where the birds are and who/how many may be impacted is important for everyone in the industry.

Call the Wayne Extension office at (919) 731-1525 if you have any questions. Report any suspected cases to the NCDA&CS Vet Division at (919) 733-7601 or the USDA toll-free hotline at 1-866-536-7593.

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