you have a closet chef among your flock? I don't think
so. You've got mice - little ones.
BIOSECURITY is practiced in
the commercial poultry industry, and it simply means to
keep your facilities as free from contaminants as
possible. Viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi, can be
kept to a minimum and sometimes be eliminated through the
practice of biosecurity. I practice biosecurity in my own
coop (much to the dismay of my friends).
In the commercial industry,
it's not uncommon for someone visiting a poultry house to
be required to take a full shower and put on protective
clothing that you would normally see in a hospital
surgical room. And this is required before they're
allowed to enter the building. There's usually a footbath
to walk through as well. (Another fine use of Oxine, I
might add.) Even feed delivery trucks sometimes have
their tires sprayed down with disinfectant before they
come up the drive, and the drivers are discouraged from
leaving the vehicle.
The types of things that
can be carried in can be devastating to a commercial
grower. Entire flocks sometimes have to be destroyed to
be sure that a contaminant has been fully removed from a
facility. And a massive disinfection process has to take
place with testing before a new flock is brought in.
But let's get real. I
realize that the average fancier is not going to go
through the extreme measures of a commercial grower
(unless they have money to burn, want to lose all of
their friends, or have all the time in the world). So
let's talk about what precautions a fancier could take to
minimize his flock's exposure, without creating a lot of
work and expense.
First, to understand the
need for some basic biosecurity, the fancier must realize
that without it, they're going to spend more time and
money to fix a problem that could have been prevented,
than it would have to practice prevention to begin with.
With that in mind, here are some things you can do.
Set mousetraps. You have
rodents. Trust me, you do. They can range from the
tiniest little mice on up to the Norway rat. I'll share
an embarrassing story with you. I knew I had small mice
in the coop because I found the telltale tiny black
dropping in the feed cups (no, it's not pepper). The
temperature had dropped and I knew my birds were
struggling to stay warm. Additional compromises to their
systems as a result of being exposed to disease via
little mouse feet, would not be good. I was going to set
the traps the next evening - after all, I was really
tired. Feeling guilty, I went into the coop the next
evening after dark. A sixth sense told me I was being
watched. No mice - anywhere. Then it caught my eye - two
of the tiniest beady little eyes you ever saw - peeking
out at me from under the wing of my best bantam d'Uccle
in her private cage! The hen was keeping this little
bugger warm! And proud of it.
Rodents transfer disease
and bacteria via their feet from cage to cage, and from
the wild population to your coop. And then there's the
'pepper' they leave in the feed and water. Let your mind
be creative here at the possibilities. Salmonella
enteritis is an example.
When people come to visit
your coop, ask them if you can mist the bottom of their
shoes with disinfectant. Tek-Trol at four times stronger
than normal dilution or a normal dilution of Oxine would
be effective - be cautious with Oxine - it could have a
bleaching effect on fabric or leather. If they're
fanciers, you'll be eliminating anything they could carry
in on their shoes, from their coop to yours. Since almost
all soil samples contain Cocci, even a non-fancier could
bring a different strain of Cocci into your coop than
your birds have been exposed to. If you read my previous
article, you'll know why this could be a big problem.
If you have birds that
free- range, keep them separated from your confined
birds. Always work in the free-range pen last, after
you've tended to all other pens and cages.
When you move from pen to
pen or cage to cage to clean out water bowls and the
like, use paper towels and throw them out after each use.
(I use the C-folds you can buy by the case for industrial
use. They're inexpensive enough to do this and not feel
guilty or rich.) Caged birds should have their own water
and feed cups that are never used for anyone else.
Don't expose your birds to
wild birds or wild waterfowl. This is especially true for
waterfowl. Wild waterfowl carry DVE (I talked about this
in my Mareks column), and it is highly contagious. Gray
Calls and Pintails seems to have a natural resistance, as
well as the Mallard - but the Mallard is thought to be a
natural carrier. It's most common in the Muscovy Duck.
DVE outbreaks have occurred in Mute Swans, White Pekins,
Khaki Campbells, Indian Runners, and Wood Ducks, but
Blue-Winged Teal and Canadian Geese are the most
susceptible to lethal infection. Although it's a risk
everywhere, DVE is more prevalent on the East Coast.
Don't expose your own birds
to the backyard bird feeder. And don't allow wild birds
to nest in your coop. I couldn't possibly list everything
they can carry to your flock.
Keep your youngsters
separate from your oldsters - at least until they're
about 6 months old. Natural immunities develop by then
that will protect them against possible 'carriers' in
your adult flock.
Keep the airborne viruses,
bacteria, and fungi in check by fogging your coop once a
week with Oxine. You can do it with the birds in the coop
and any surface that becomes wet as a result of the
fogging, will be disinfected. To learn more about Oxine,
check out my September/00 article. (No, I don't own stock
in the company.)
Finally, remember to
quarantine sick birds in a different facility and take
care of them last. Even if they're in a separate cage,
many viruses are airborne and some travel on feather
dander, such as Mareks, which can be transferred by
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