Florida now has confirmed cases of Bird Flu, which is Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). While the cases in Brevard, Palm Beach and Volusia Counties were detected in wild birds, poultry owners need to be vigilant. Cases have also been detected in Indiana, Maine, New York, Delaware, Kentucky, Virginia, and Michigan in commercial and backyard flocks. Now is the time to improve and use a strict biosecurity program in small flocks. Our commercial poultry producers have done this for decades, following a strict program to try to prevent outside health threats from coming into the poultry houses. While this best practice is very successful, it isn’t always going to work. A commercial turkey operation had to euthanize several thousand birds recently, which is often necessary during such outbreaks.
The key to biosecurity of your flock is “isolation”. Do not visit a friend’s flock and transport contaminants back to your flock. Do not bring in new birds unless they come from a well-managed hatchery. Isolate your flock from wild birds as much as you possibly can. Also, observe your flock frequently for any changes in behavior. Quick detection and reporting can help prevent the spread of dangerous health threats.
According to Feedstuffs Magazine, a scientist has developed 8 vaccine candidates to fight against HPAI. This will be a great tool to help protect both commercial and small flock poultry.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services State Animal Response Team (SART) has provided several resources. These resources provide up-to-date information, information on HPAI, and information on how to protect flocks (USDA DEFEND THE FLOCK).
- FDACS Animal Industry Website (Under Announcements)
- FWC Avian Influenza Page
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
- USDA Defend the Flock Resource Center
- USDA APHIS Avian Influenza Page
If you have questions concerning your small flock, contact your local county Extension Agent.