My girls are happy in their fresh digs! We thoroughly cleaned the chicken coop this weekend! Scooped the poop. Washed the walls and ceiling and nesting buckets. Added sand and dried pine needles in the run and pine shavings in the nesting end to make clean and dry bedding. Fixed a few things, installed a new door and adjusted the feeders and waterers. Whew! It was a lot of work but clean living space is key to keeping hens healthy. It’s also one of the most important steps in biosecurity.
I am getting questions and comments from folks about the Avian Flu affecting poultry flocks in Iowa. According to the USDA animal health website there are millions of birds affected in Iowa, however, as of the writing of this post, there are only 4 backyard flocks identified as being affected. Birds raised in commercial settings are the primary focus at this time. County fairs have canceled poultry shows around the state to prevent the spread of disease.
As a chicken ‘mama’, I am watching the news closely. Maisy, Daisy, Bonnie and Roylene, my California Whites, are a little over 1 year old now and have been laying since they were about 20 weeks old. I am grateful that my 4 hens are healthy and continue to supply my family and several neighbors with weekly eggs. I practice everyday biosecurity by using one pair of shoes to do my chicken chores that are never used to go to town or on walks in the neighborhood. We wash our hands after handling birds and eggs.
- Keep your distance.
- Keep it clean.
- Don’t haul disease home.
- Don’t borrow disease from your neighbor.
- Know the warning signs of infectious bird disease.
- Report sick birds.
This disease outbreak will impact jobs and the food system. I’ve seen media stories about egg rationing and its effects on commercial food suppliers. The impact on restaurants, bakeries, and grocerys, to name a few, will soon be felt in our communities.
I overheard a conversation about this hearing them say, “Guess it’s time to raise my own chickens.” If you choose to begin raising backyard birds, it is important to get new chicks from a certified National Poultry Improvement Program (NPIP) hatchery. Do your homework and learn from these USDA resources for small producers. Be sure to check out your local ordinances and community requirements if you live in an incorporated town or development.
If you have concerns or more questions about the Avian influenza outbreak, check out the backyard resources on Iowa State University Animal Science website.
May all your hens be happy and healthy!