Whether you are a commercial producer or just have a few birds in your backyard, all bird owners have a vital role in preventing disease outbreaks, whether it be bird flu or other bird diseases.
Eight simple steps will help prevent disease in your birds
1. Keep your equipment and poultry yard or aviary clean
- remove litter, sand and grit from the aviary between batches of birds, and every few months for resident birds
- thoroughly clean concrete floors, walls and aviary wire with soapy water, and disinfect as needed
- clean and disinfect feed and water containers regularly
- don't share equipment with other birdkeepers, unless it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected
2. Avoid contact between your birds and wild birds
- prevent contact with wild birds by restricting access to open ponds, lakes and creeks - protective netting can also help prevent wild birds from entering domestic bird areas
- clean up surrounding areas to reduce shelter and hiding places for wild birds
3. Don't let feed and water become contaminated by faeces or other animal waste
- ensure water supplied to poultry is from a chlorinated mains water supply, a microbiologically clean bore, or treated with chlorine if these sources aren't available
(also see the Water Biosecurity Manual)
- don't allow wild birds or pest animals to contaminate your birds' feed - store it in a container with a secure lid
4. If you go to shows practice good hygiene
- information for bird show participants is available below. In addition, an Exhibition Bird Biosecurity video can be seen. The video was developed in 2017 by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), in conjunction with Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF), the Poultry CRC, and exhibition poultry groups
5. Limit visitors to your birds
- restrict access to bird areas
- ask visitors to put on clean protective clothing and use foot-baths containing appropriate disinfectants at the entrance to bird areas or sheds
- keep a record of visitors
6. Quarantine new birds
- separate and monitor new birds for at least 30 days before introducing them to your existing flock
- always source your birds from a reputable producer or breeder whose bird health status is known
- always buy healthy looking birds and avoid buying them from markets
- feed and clean quarantined birds after you have tended to other birds
7. Know the signs of disease
- swollen heads
- drop in egg production
- respiratory distress
- loss of appetite
- sudden death of several or more birds
Other potential signs include:
- reluctance to move, eat or drink
- droopy appearance
- inability to walk or stand
- unusual head and neck posture.
8. Immediately report any sick or dead birds
- If you see any unusual symptoms in your birds or find that a number of them have died within a short period of time, be on the safe side and report it immediately to your local veterinarian, Department of Primary Industries or the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.
It is essential that any suspected disease outbreak be reported immediately!
Quick containment and eradication of any emergency disease will reduce the impact on:
- Australia's poultry meat and egg industries - which contribute enormously to Australia's economy
- the environment
- the health of other birds - including native species
- human health.
Bird show participants
Bird shows are a great opportunity for stud breeders and exhibitors to compete for coveted titles and see the best that different breeds have to offer. However, any grouping of birds carries the risk of spreading disease because all birds are in close contact.
Judges also handle many birds from different aviaries, and disinfecting clothing and hands between birds is not always possible. In these situations, viral diseases such as avian influenza could spread rapidly from one bird to the next.
Exhibition Bird Biosecurity video
What can bird exhibitors do?
There are a few simple things that stud breeders and exhibitors attending bird shows can do to help prevent the spread of disease.
- do not take any birds to a show if there are signs of illness in your flock
- all bird equipment and permanent carrying containers should be cleaned and disinfected before and after a show
- while at the show, exhibitors should not handle birds other than their own, but if this is necessary, exhibitors should always thoroughly wash their hands between birds
- on returning home, show birds should always undergo a period of quarantine before re-introduction to the flock
- keep a register of all bird movements in and out of your premises, particularly to shows.
What can judges do?
Judges should take care to keep their clothing and equipment clean, and disinfect hands between handling birds.
What can show organisers do?
Show organisers and club members can also do their part by keeping adequate records of exhibitors and birds attending shows and club meetings. This will be essential to aid traceback in the event of an outbreak of any emergency disease.
- where possible different species should not be on display in the same pavilion - in particular, waterfowl should not be in the same area as pigeons, poultry or other birds
- bird clubs can also encourage presentations on cleaning and disinfection principles for prevention of avian diseases at bird shows
- consideration should be given to having a veterinarian present or contactable by telephone on the day(s) of the show.
Biosecurity video clips
See our videos showing the simple biosecurity measures you can implement around birds and poultry.
The National Australian Poultry Identification Scheme
The Modern Game Promotional Society is trialling a national exhibition poultry register (based on leg-banding by breeders) called the National Australian Poultry Identification Scheme (NAPIS). A national register of exhibitors’ poultry would greatly assist surveillance and control efforts in the event of an emergency disease outbreak.
To support the national scheme, a purebred poultry breeder logbook has been produced which breeders can use to record leg band numbers and poultry movements, and to order new leg bands. The logbook also includes a number of poultry-related record-keeping documents.
The logbooks are provided free with each NAPIS leg band order. You can order leg bands and read more information about the scheme on the NAPIS website.