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Tips to Keep Your Birds Safe from Avian Influenza

The H5N2 strain of avian influenza has been confirmed in domestic flocks of birds in three states, and more cases seem to be popping up as migratory birds are traveling with the warm temperatures. With possible carriers of the disease lurking around every corner and a strain that works so quickly that birds may die before the most vigilant producers, poultry workers need to take every precaution to keep their birds safe.

“You must eliminate all contact between [migratory birds] and your birds,” says Scott Beyer, Kansas State University poultry specialist. Beyer, an animal scientist, lays out ways to reduce risk of spreading the virus to your operation.

First and foremost, migratory birds are not the only threat to keep in mind. Starlings, sparrows, pigeons, and rodents can also be sources of diseases that you don’t want near your flock. During the spring season they tend to be searching for feeding and nesting areas, so be aware of their persistence trying to get into your facilities. Use any or all of these tips to deter outsiders and keep avian influenza from taking your operation by storm: 

  • Remove nests you find as they are being built.

  • Clean up spilled feed both indoors and outdoors. 
  • Eliminate or move wild bird feeders away from domestic poultry areas.
  • Discourage outside animals from nesting by netting the areas they are likely to go to.
  • Don’t leave feed accessible at night. Either move the feeders to areas where other animals cannot access them, or only feed what the domestic flock will consume before dark.
  • Place all feed in rodent-proof containers/areas.
  • Be conscious of where you’re walking. If you walk through areas where migratory birds have nested or congregated, consider washing or changing your shoes before interacting with your flock.

Since the H5N2 strain of avian influenza is highly pathogenic and transfers via fecal matter, it’s a best practice to limit any and all contact with birds from other farms. Be sure to change or clean shoes and other exposed items using a mixture of 1 cup of bleach and 1 gallon of water to soak or rinse them. Be sure to rinse well after using bleach.

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