Over the last several years, more people have turned to raising chickens at home. But a highly infectious bird flu called Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has created challenges for backyard growers, already affecting more than 58 million birds nationwide. Recently, Dr. Julie Gauthier, the Assistant Director of Poultry Health at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, participated in a nationwide satellite media tour to discuss the crisis and how their ‘Defend the Flock’ campaign is helping address the issue.
A video accompanying this announcement is available at: https://youtu.be/-7Wg4IcF5Bc
The U.S. poultry industry is one of the largest in the world and an important sector of our agricultural economy. Disease outbreaks can devastate flocks, impact trade, cause job and financial losses, and affect prices on eggs, prepared poultry, and other staples.
The Defend the Flock education program offers free tools and resources to help everyone who handles or works with poultry follow proper biosecurity practices. These practices will help keep your birds healthy and reduce the risk of avian influenza and other infectious diseases.
· Keep flocks away from open water and wild birds that can carry disease
· Separating your poultry from the rest of your property, using only one entry and exit point
· Clean regularly and wear dedicated clothes and shoes when tending to your flock
· Clean equipment and vehicles with soap and water before and after they are near your flock
· Don’t share tools, poultry supplies or equipment with other flock owners
· Report sick birds and know the warning signs, including lower egg production, soft-shelled or misshapen eggs, and runny nose, sneezing and trouble breathing.
Report any signs of illness or unexplained deaths to your veterinarian, animal health official, or call the USDA at 866-536-7593
For more tips and advice to keep your chickens safe, search online for ‘Defend the Flock’
About Dr. Julie Gauthier
Dr. Julie Gauthier is Assistant Director for Poultry Health and a Veterinary Medical Officer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture/APHIS. The doctor is a Veterinary Medicine Prevention Officer for the U.S. Army Reserve where she has served for more than five years. Dr. Gauthier received her Master’s in Public Health from the Yale School of Public Health and her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University.