By Gary Sliworsky
Ag rep, Emo
One pathogen invisible to the naked eye can destroy years of genetic advances made by bird fanciers, or the livelihood of small flock and non-regulated poultry owners.
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
In this case, biosecurity is the preventive measure.
Reducing the threat of disease among birds and poultry protects an owner’s investment and livelihood. Biosecurity can be as elaborate or simple as an owner wishes, and it can be inexpensive when viewed in terms of bird care and contact.
Poultry specialist Al Dam and veterinarian Dr. Paul Innes, from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, offer these biosecurity suggestions:
•Control access to your birds.
Restrict visitor access so there is no unnecessary or unauthorized contact with birds and poultry at your home or farm (this reduces the chance of disease and pathogens being introduced to your birds).
•Create a clearly-defined restricted access, or barrier, zone around your birds, with a controlled entry point.
First, a barrier zone restricts contact with your birds. Second, the controlled entry point provides the opportunity to put biosecurity measures in place for anyone who comes in contact with your birds, such as changing clothing and footwear, to reduce the movement of pathogens.
It is strongly recommended to have dedicated coveralls and boots that are used only for working with the birds within the restricted access zone.
•Hand washing as an individual enters or leaves the barrier zone is equally critical to reduce the transfer of pathogens and disease.
A sink with soap dispenser is recommended for indoor set-ups, but hand sanitizer dispensers can be used for outdoor pens, as well.
Bird fanciers, small flock owners, and non-regulated poultry owners can learn more practical biosecurity measures through a free kit called “Keeping Your Birds Healthy.”
The kit contains more than 50 fact sheets in print and on CD, a visitor log book, various brochures, posters, and a weatherproof restricted entry sign.
The kit was produced by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, University of Guelph, and Poultry Industry Council to ensure bird health and improve biosecurity.
The kits are free when you call the OMAFRA office in Emo at 482-1921.
More information also is available at www.ontario.ca/healthybirds
Bird enthusiasts who would like to implement significant biosecurity measures may be able to access funds through a federal-provincial initiative called “Growing Forward.”
There is a biosecurity component that offers educational workshops and tools for producers, as well as cost-share programs.
More information is available at www.ontario.ca/growingforward
Dates to remember
•June 25–Food safety and traceability information meeting (call 1-800-461-6132 to register).