The first time I heard that word I thought of people in hazmat suits. And on large chicken farms where eggs, meat or chicks provide a significant source of income, bio-security measures are certainly more extreme. Some farms don’t allow visitors at all, for fear of bringing disease into their flocks. Most of us with smaller flocks aren’t this drastic. We enjoy sharing our love of poultry with visitors. We understand that, while we love our small flocks, our risk tolerance is greater than a commercial farm would be. We choose to be careful without going overboard.
This is how we handle bio-security at Chicken Scratch.
No Live Birds Added
If we plan to add to our flock, we hatch our own eggs, or bring fertilized eggs in from another trusted farm.
If you plan to add live birds to your flock, day old chicks are the safest additions you can make. Older birds should be quarantined for 30 days to watch for signs of any illness. The stress of their new home can cause underlying illness to become more evident.
Quarantine After Contact With Other Flocks
When we take chickens to shows, auctions, or anywhere they contact other poultry, we quarantine them before reintroducing them to the flock. This often causes an upset in the pecking order upon their return. We take similar precautions as when adding new flock members.
I have two pairs of what I call my “coop shoes”. A pair of crocks for every day, and a pair of mud boots for rainy or snowy days. These coop shoes don’t go anywhere else. I don’t wear them to the store, I don’t wear them into the house. This keeps the majority of chicken germs (in the form of poo on the bottoms of my shoes) out of the house and out of my car. It also keeps me from tracking chicken germs back home to my chickens. These germs can be lurking anywhere other chicken keepers have worn their own “coop shoes”. I am always particularly leery of farm stores. I know that lots of people go straight from the coop to the truck to the store – where their chickens’ diseases can become my chickens’ diseases if I am not cautious.
Disinfecting Coops and Equipment
Periodically I clean and disinfect our coops and equipment (waterers, feeders, etc) with Oxine. I do a thorough cleaning every spring and between flocks, and spot cleanings as needed throughout the year.
What bio-security measures do you take to prevent disease in your flock?