Watch the excellent video Bird Health Basics, How to Prevent and Detect Disease in Small Flocks and Pet Birds produced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Follow these five biosecurity tips:

  • Store the feed in an airtight container.
  • Dispose of dead animal carcasses immediately.
  • Drain any pools of stagnant water and make sure you have a healthy water source.
  • If your animals have been sick, do not use manure and litter, even composted, in a vegetable garden.
  • Wait a month before grazing animals on a pasture where contaminated manure has been spread.

Practicing biosecurity means adopting a set of attitudes and behaviors that reduce the risks affecting both the safety of the food you consume and the health of other animals, other poultry farms and humans.

There is a risk of contamination of birds by highly contagious diseases currently absent in Canada, such as avian influenza. Certain diseases are also required to be reported to the federal authorities.

A farm has many sources of contamination: loaned equipment, visitors, domestic animals, wild birds, rodents, insects, etc. 

Prevention is the most effective strategy!

A small farm can be divided into three distinct zones.

1) fenced area

  • Limited access;
  • Protection against predators and other undesirables.

2) shelter area (chicken coop)

  • Restricted;
  • Check that visitors have not recently been in contact with other birds;
  • Protection of the feed cart by a cover to avoid contamination by rodents or cats.

3) transition zone (if space permits)

  • Small area at the entrance to the henhouse where the person responsible for caring for the poultry or any visitor can put on boots reserved for this purpose or clean shoe covers. In addition to wash or disinfect hands when entering and leaving the henhouse (failing this, use a disinfectant gel)

Maintain a log so visitors can be traced in the event of a problem.

Small-scale livestock farming often involves more than one animal species. If several species are present, endeavour to keep them in separate enclosures and provide appropriate hygiene measures for each.

Isolate new animals for 2 to 4 weeks to watch for any signs of illness before putting them in with the others.

During this period, use separate equipment, shoe covers and equipment. Clean and disinfect them after treatment. Always deal with single birds last.

If you participate in fairs, avoid sharing equipment with other breeders. If you handle another breeder’s birds, wash your hands before coming into contact with your own birds. If you lend animals to another breeder, try to isolate them for a certain time upon their return and wash and disinfect the transport equipment.

Be on the lookout for the following signs:

  • lack of energy;
  • decreased egg production;
  • reduction in feed and water consumption;
  • sneezing, heavy breathing with open beak;
  • runny nose or eyes;
  • tremors, lack of coordination, nervous signs;
  • swelling of the head, eyelids, wattles or legs;
  • diarrhea or sudden death.

As soon as one of these signs is detected, isolate the affected bird in a “hospital enclosure”. Consult a veterinarian as soon as possible who will make a diagnosis and advise you on the appropriate treatment.

Dispose of dead poultry within 48 hours and comply with current regulations.

In agricultural environments, the MAPAQ regulations on the disposal of dead animal carcasses apply.

In urban areas, contact your municipality to find out if special arrangements must be made. Until you can dispose of the dead birds, you can wrap them airtight and freeze them in a freezer where you do not store food.

A hen or chicken can produce up to 1 kg of droppings per week. It is important to check with your municipality for the regulations and services offered in order to dispose of the manure.

If you live in an agricultural zone, the Agricultural Operations Regulation (REA) governs agricultural activities including the storage of animal waste, their disposal and the spreading of fertilizers.

If you would like to obtain further information regarding the regulatory amendment, please contact a regional office or the information center of the ministère de l’Environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs.