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Protect poultry by practicing

Spring is a popular time to buy poultry and begin or expand backyard flocks, and the Missouri Department of Agriculture encourages producers to practice biosecurity to help protect their own health as well as the health of their birds, customers and the public.

“There are many biosecurity practices poultry producers can implement to make a positive impact,” said Missouri State Veterinarian Dr. Steve Strubberg. “Our poultry team works to help birds and bird owners remain healthy throughout the year.”

A top concern is highly pathogenic avian influenza, which is a deadly virus for poultry that has impacted 48 states over the past two years. It is important to keep flocks free of this virus, Strubberg emphasized. For biosecurity tips regarding the prevention of this disease, visit Agriculture.Mo.Gov/Avian-Influenza.php.

Whether you are building your first coop or are a seasoned backyard poultry owner, you should know the risks of keeping poultry and the simple things you can do to stay safe. Beyond avian influenza, poultry often carry other harmful germs that can cause a variety of illnesses, ranging from minor skin infections to serious diseases. USDA’s Defend the Flock program offers free tools and resources to help anyone who works with or handles poultry follow proper biosecurity practices. Learn more at aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/defendtheflock.

Among recommended practices are:
• Keep visitors to a minimum. Only allow people who take care of your poultry to come in contact with your birds, and make sure they follow biosecurity principles.
• Wash your hands before and after coming in contact with live poultry. In addition to potentially spreading disease, you can also spread germs such as salmonella that can impact human health.
• Clean and disinfect tools or equipment before moving them to a new poultry facility, including egg flats and cases that have come in contact with birds or their droppings.
• Know the warning signs of infectious bird diseases and don’t wait to report them. Call your local veterinarian, extension service or state veterinarian.

More resources are also available from the Center for Disease Control under the “Backyard Poultry” section at cdc.gov/healthypets/pets.

Check out the full April 2024 Issue of Today's Farmer magazine.

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