Describe 'BIOSECURITY in the poultry yard' here
The word biosecurity is bandied about a lot in the livestock industry, but what does it mean to you and me as a backyard poultry keeper?
Biosecurity applies to all facets of health and cleanliness in your yard, from vaccination of the flock against various diseases to the state of your runs, the cleanliness of the area, rodent control, predator control,disposal of old bedding, fly control, health of the parent stock, incubation practices, deworming and delousing regularly, and also the amount of staff and visitors allowed on the property.
If you run a small operation like mine, you rely on visitors to spread the word on what you are trying to do in your breeding programme. Therefore you need to be extra vigilant about controlling flies, rats, smells, and disease. How does one do this?
Firstly, LAYOUT of the houses or pens you have is of paramount importance. Your housing needs to be open enough to allow for ventilation, (especially where I live where temperatures reach 38degrees celcius and humidity as it is today is at 94%), and closed enough to allow privacy for laying, and a draft free cold free sleeping area for the birds.
It needs to be cleaned so make it easily accessible for replacing of bedding.
Once bedding is discarded, what do you do with it?
NEVER allow birds to scratch and free range in old bedding or compost heaps. Fence off the area designated for old bedding, we make compost out of it, and make sure you "cap" each compost heap so as to limit flies.
We allow my ducks to free range on the property, and they dispose of all insects, snakes, mosquitoes etc. Khaki Campbells are known for this and do not destroy the garden. In our area with high humidity, mosquitoes breed in the water retained by palm tree leaves. The ducks see to it they never hatch. They also eat snakes and never allow snakes near the poultry or me!
This is a natural way to maintain biosecurity.
Secondly, you need to have in place a vaccination programme that works for you in your area. If there are field challenges of Mareks, Newcastle or Infectious Bronchitis, those are the vaccines you need to apply. Consult your local vet. In this country it is obligatory to vaccinate against Newcastle, IB, Gumboro.
Thirdly, you need to listen to the birds themselves and give them the conditions each breed needs to thrive. For example, I have several different breeds that each require different laying conditions in order to produce maximum eggs and maximum fertility. This is also part of your biosecurity because a happy bird is a healthy bird, and an unhappy bird will fall prey to all sorts of diseases. Birds that are not given optimum conditions for breeding will become listless, their immune system will be compromised and they will fall ill.
Watch your girls, see where they like to lay, usually in a quiet dark place away from predators.
WATCH well that the rooster you have in your breed pen is not a bully, or he will damage the girls and they will be terrified of him.
Black Australorp hens are notorious for this: If they do not like the male you have provided for them they will either not lay at all or there will be no fertile eggs! I have had this often, changed the male and have had eggs every day!
Make sure you rotate your males regularly so as not to stress them unduly. You will get a lot more out of a cock if he is not over tired.
Fourthly, make sure you have in place an adequate rodent control programme, and a fly control programme. Ensure the runs are predator proof. In this country I have pythons, genets, civets, wild cats, monitor lizzards, mongoose.
These cause stress in the birds and bring disease.
Make sure you deworm your birds regularly, especially before the breeding season, delouse and check for parasites regularly, as a bird crawling with parasites cannot be in good condition for breeding.
Make sure your birds are fed well, that water is changed every day especially when very hot, and that the bedding is not allowed to become wet, smelly and unsightly. If there is build up of ammonia in the pen, birds will become ill. If the bedding is wet, you may get coccidiosis, a parasite that lives in wet bedding. Litter beettles are carriers for Mareks, cobwebs and dander as well so clean well and clean regularly.
Bacteria cannot survive in aerobic conditions, that is conditions that allow free flow of oxygen. Anaerobic conditions, that is conditions that do not allow the free flow of oxygen, breed salmonella among other diseases, and allow bacilli to breed that cause most of the respiratory or digestive problems poultry have. (lacto baciili found in milk are excellent bacteria to encourage, but bacilli perfigens is one that causes necrotic enteritis among others).
Dont overcrowd your birds, and keep all surfaces especially in the incubator very clean.
Keeping a clean yard means no smell, no flies, no sick birds. Once you have achieved this, it is easier to keep on top of things!