Basic Bird Biosecurity

Whether you realize it or not, you are probably already performing some basic biosecurity practices! According to the World Health Organization, biosecurity is the strategies and approaches taken to analyze and manage relevant risks to human, animal, and plant life and health. Some important biosecurity practices to implement are listed below:

  • Wash Hands

    • Wash them preferably with soap and water, both before and after coming into contact with your birds for at least 20 seconds

      • If you are using hand sanitizer or other alcohol based products, do your best to remove any organic matter off of hands first (dirt, feathers, etc.)

  • Cleaning

    • Perform "clean" tasks first, such as collecting eggs, feeding and handling any birds followed by "dirty" tasks, such as cleaning feces and handling any dead birds

      • While cleaning, wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE), such as a mask, gloves and your dedicated clothing/footwear (described below)

      • Clean and disinfect feeders and waterers daily

        • Use disinfectants that are Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved and follow the label directions​

      • Clean and disinfect housing and equipment at least weekly

        • Leave the house empty of chickens after cleaning until dry 

    • Remove any organic material (dirt, feathers, feces, etc) from equipment prior to disinfecting (can make them ineffective)

    • Clean and disinfect equipment after use, especially when used for "dirty functions" (manure pickup, handling sick or dead birds)

  • Dedicated Clothing

    • Use dedicated clothing or coveralls for bird areas and clean them routinely

    • Wear a dedicated set of boots to go in the bird area with and leave them outside 

      • Provide extra boots or boot covers for any visitors ​

      • Keep a disinfectant footbath to step shoes into as entering/exiting 

  • ​​​Quarantine New Birds

    • ​Quarantine any new birds from the rest of flock for at least 3 weeks (ideally 30 days)

      • ​Always take care of your existing flock first before caring for the new birds, then disinfect equipment

  • Limit Visitors

    • Try to limit the number of visitors to your birds and make sure they have not been in contact with other birds over the past couple days 

    • Limit sharing of equipment between friends and neighbors who also own poultry

  • Handling Dead Birds

    • If you find a dead bird, wear gloves to handle the bird

      • Call your state diagnostic laboratory for further instructions if you are unsure how to dispose of the bird or to check if any further testing is recommended. A list of accredited laboratories is available on the additional resources page

    • If you do not know why the bird died or it appeared sick, it is best to get a necropsy (an exam done after death that can determine the cause of death). Infectious disease testing may be recommended by the veterinarian too.

      • The necropsy can determine if you should make any husbandry changes for the health of the rest of your birds

      • If you can bring the bird to the state diagnostic laboratory within 24 hours you can place the bird in a bag in the refrigerator to keep it cool ​

      • If you cannot bring the bird within 24 hours, place the bird in a bag in a freezer until you can get it to the diagnostic laboratory. Don't worry all testing can still be done even if it has been frozen!