Some tips to keep your birds healthy

Farm and Dairy file photo

While the poultry ban has been lifted, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and other poultry experts recommend bird handlers continue to follow good practices, to prevent a future occurrence of avian flu. Here are some tips to follow, provided by ODA:

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Acquire healthy birds. An important factor in maintaining flock health is sourcing and raising healthy birds. Birds that are intended for exhibition should always be sourced from a National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) flock and should not co-mingle with birds that came from uncertified sources.

It is also important to keep birds away from wild waterfowl. Buying birds from a show or swap meet increases the possibility of unintentionally spreading disease, so birds that are not directly sourced from NPIP flocks should be isolated on the property for several weeks before they are introduced into a flock.

Follow biosecurity. All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, keep birds inside as much as possible, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to their veterinarian immediately.

Flock health. Monitor flocks for unusual signs of illness such as “snicking” (sneezing), a 1 percent or more decrease in egg production, or an increase in mortality. Other signs to look for are wheezing, lethargy, and depression.

Personal contact. Practice personal biosecurity and avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.

Watch your visitors. Keep unauthorized visitors from having contact with poultry, a good practice whether or not there is a disease threat. Authorized persons should be required to wear protective clothing and shoes before entering a commercial poultry house.

Wild birds. Avoid contact between your birds and wild birds whenever possible due to the migratory nature of HPAI. These virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick.

Clean vehicles. Clean and disinfect farm vehicles or equipment before moving them on and off your property.

Report issues. Sick birds or unusual bird deaths should also be immediately reported to the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health at 614-728-6220, or through the USDA APHIS toll-free number, 866-536-7593.

Additional information on biosecurity for backyard flocks can be found at, or by visiting

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Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.



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