The University of Maryland Extension provides following information in a publication titled “Protecting Your Small Flock.”
Biosecurity is a set of measures you practice everyday designed to prevent the spread of disease onto your property and into your flock.
Good Biosecurity Practices1
Confine your birds to a designated area; includes keeping other animals out keeping doors on houses (if applicable).
Know who is coming onto and around your property. Keep unauthorized people out of poultry areas.
Disinfecting materials, equipment, and people that work on your property.
Introduction of new birds and traffic onto and around your property pose the greatest risk to bird health.
Biosecurity does not have to be elaborate, as long as the basic measures are practiced regularly.
Understanding the Chain of Infection 2
Infectious Agent > Reservoir > Portal of Exit > Transmission > Portal of Entry > Susceptible Host > Infectious Agent
Infectious Agent: The organism that causes the disease (also called the pathogen)
Reservoir: The source of the infection. There are four categories in which a reservoir is classified: 1. Living animals; 2. Dead animals; 3. Animal by-products (eggs, blood, etc.); 4. Environment (soil, equipment, etc.)
Portal of Exit: How the organism leaves the reservoir either by direct contact with other birds or by vectors. A vector can be mechanical (vehicles, equipment, people) or biological (wild birds, rodents, insects).
Transmission: The way the infection is carried or transported between two individuals or areas.
Portal of entry: How the infection enters an animal or facility.
Susceptible Host: The animal that could be infected. Animals with a lower or suppressed immunity are the most susceptible to illness and disease.
By practicing sanitation and using disinfectants in your biosecurity program, you break the chain of infection, thus preventing disease.
Sanitation and Disinfectants
When choosing a type of chemical sanitation agents or disinfectant, the following should be considered:
A disinfectant should be:
- Effective against many pathogens
- Cost effective
- Effective at normal temperatures
A disinfectant should not:
- Have objectionable odors
- Damage the material it is applied to
- Corrode metals or equipment
Suggested disinfectants: bleach, Virex, Lysol, soap and water
Easy Ways to Reduce Disease in Your Flock
Preventing disease on your property is key to keeping a healthy flock. It’s easy! Wash your hands after handling birds in isolation or that are from a different flock. Use footbaths when entering or exiting a flock area. Remember, footpaths are only effective if maintained. These are simple and inexpensive steps that take less than five minutes and can stop the disease cycle.
Prevention is always cheaper than treatment! Disease can gain entry onto your property in many ways: traffic, pets, water, people, old litter, insects, wild animals, sharing equipment, mixing bird species.
- Vaccinate your birds, as appropriate.
- Constantly monitor the health status of your flock.
- Register your flock with the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
- Always obtain birds from dealers/hatcheries that participate in the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP).
- Keep accurate records on your birds. Document where and when birds were acquired, when birds were medicated, and dates they were vaccinated.
- Post “restricted” signs at the entrance to all bird areas.
- Wear dedicated clothing and footwear when working with your birds. Do not use these clothes and footwear for off-farm activities.
- Wash your hands before and after handling birds.
Jeffrey, J.S. 1997. Biosecurity for Poultry Flocks. University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine.
Vallancourt, J. and Stringham, M. 2007. Infectious Disease Risk Management. The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. Tucker, GA.