Prevent avian flu in your small flock

URBANA, Ill – In the past three weeks, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has been detected in wild birds in the central U.S. flyway. The HPAI strains being detected are Eurasian H5 and Eurasian H5N1. Cases of HPAI have been confirmed in commercial and small flocks in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, and Michigan.

So far, no cases have been reported in Illinois, says Doug Gucker, University of Illinois Extension local food systems small farms educator. He provides several management practices to protect flocks from infection.

Protecting your Flock

First, keep infected wild waterfowl, such as ducks and geese, and gulls from interacting with your poultry flock. Avian flu circulates in the wild waterfowl and gull populations without affecting them; yet, it is deadly to domestic poultry flocks.

"It is important to separate your birds from the wild birds," Gucker says. "Using enclosed outdoor areas and shelters will allow your birds to have some outdoor time without the risk of coming in contact with possibly infected wildlife or wild birds."

Ensure that wild birds do not have access to your flocks feeders and waterers.

"Keep the poultry coop clean to reduce the risk of your birds coming in contact with their waste," says Gucker.

Any new birds being brought on the property should be kept separate from the flock for 30 days to ensure that they are healthy and disease-free. Any crates or cages that have been off the farm should be disinfected before using.

"It is recommended not to share equipment with neighbors until the current avian flu situation has passed," Gucker says.

For more information on Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, visit the USDA avian influenza website or the University of Minnesota Extension avian influenza website site.

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SOURCE: Doug Gucker, Illinois Extension Local Food Systems Small Farms Educator.