If you have backyard chickens, they are a valuable part of your homestead, no doubt. They provide you with food, and keep bugs at bay. Their poop is a huge help to your garden, too. It’s a given that you would want to keep them as healthy as possible, especially from the avian flu. Here are some things that you can do to make sure that your birds don’t get sick.
Keep their water clean and change it often. Bacteria in the drinking water is a surefire way to transmit diseases. Give your water dispensers a good cleaning as well to make sure they aren’t harboring any germs on the surface.
Know how your retailer takes care of the food before you buy it. Do they have it stored safely so bugs or rats can’t get to it? These animals can contaminate your chicken feed, so if you aren’t shopping from a place that protects their feed, you might want to shop elsewhere.
Once you bring it home, keep food in containers that rodents can’t get to and contaminate it. Some articles I read suggested plastic tubs or garbage cans with lids.
If you free range, do be aware that other birds can still make your chickens sick this way, so you may want to limit it if you know there is an outbreak among animals in your area. Free range chickens are a little bit harder to control the exposure too, but it is worth a try.
If you have been to another farm with chickens, you might want to shower and hose off your boots before going around your own chickens. The jury is still out on whether humans can pass avian flu to animals, so better to be safe than sorry. It might also be a good idea not to visit other chicken flocks until the flu outbreak is over.
If you get new chickens, you need to quarantine them for a bit to make sure they aren’t sick. Even one sick chicken can infect your whole brood, so this is a good safety measure anytime you introduce new birds to the flock.
If there is an avian flu outbreak, you might want to hold off on bringing in any new birds altogether until the outbreak is no more. When you do decide to add more chickens, don’t be afraid to ask the source lots of questions about the health of their birds. The last thing you want is to bring infected birds into a healthy flock. That could end up being a nightmare!
Knowledge is your best weapon. Check the CDC website often to stay up to date on the avian flu. Know the signs and symptoms of the disease to watch for them in your birds. If you see signs, quarantine the affected birds immediately.
You may not be able to totally ward off the avian flu, but you can take some practical measures to protect your feathered friends.