Poultry can suffer a range of infectious diseases, so it’s important to protect them by putting in place some commonsense biosecurity practices, no matter what size your flock. Biosecurity covers the practical measures we take to limit the spread of infectious diseases, pests or pathogens, which can be spread by other fowls in the flock or may be brought in by new chooks. They can also enter your yard carried by you or others on clothes, shoes, equipment and car wheels, even in hair. Wild birds and rodents can also spread disease.
Top tips for backyard biosecurity
- Keep your henhouse and yard clean and tidy, and clean the henhouse out fully twice a year. Remove any damp patches from litter.
- Keep nesting boxes clean and free of manure.
- Make sure chicks are kept separate from adult fowls as long as possible; chicks are born with an immature immune system, making them more susceptible to illness.
- When feeding fowls, always feed the chicks first, so you are not tracking antibodies from the flock to the chicks.
- Feed any sick fowls last so you don’t carry pathogens back to the flock.
- Sterilise any secondhand or swapped equipment, such as feeders etc.
- Fresh litter and clean housing should be used with new flocks.
- Consider getting a post-mortem when fowls die mysteriously so you know what you are dealing with.
For more details on how to keep your chooks happy and safe read Jessamy Miller's full article in the latest issue of Organic Gardener Magazine.
First published: June 2019