Maryland: Poultry Farmers Urged to Practice Enhanced Biosecurity

~ The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has partnered with the Maryland Farm Bureau and the Delmarva Chicken Association to remind poultry farmers to remain vigilant and practice enhanced biosecurity measures as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) continues to confirm findings of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in wild birds in the Atlantic Flyway.

MDA Secretary Kevin Atticks said, "As we are in peak migratory season, it is vital to review and implement your enhanced biosecurity measures to keep your flocks safe. From commercial poultry growers to backyard flock owners, it is crucial for everyone to take proper steps to isolate their birds and wild waterfowl migrating along the Atlantic flyway."

During this time of year, migratory waterfowl moving through Maryland present a heightened risk for HPAI, which is a potentially devastating disease for poultry operations. HPAI is caused by an influenza type A virus, which can infect poultry (chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quails, domestic ducks, geese, and guinea fowl) and is carried by free flying waterfowl such as ducks, geese and shorebirds.

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Holly Porter from the Delmarva Chicken Association said that chicken growers know they are on the front line of defense against HPAI outbreaks and they take that role seriously. She added that everyday biosecurity measures can ensure their flocks stay protected from contamination.

The MDA has provided minimum guidelines for growers to maintain a sanitary biosecure premise such as restricting access to poultry by posting "Restricted Access" signage or securing the area with a gate; taking steps to ensure contaminated materials on the ground are not transported into the poultry growing house or area; providing footbaths and foot mats with disinfectant; boot washing and disinfectant station; footwear change or foot covers; covering and securing feed; covering and properly containing carcasses; used litter or other disease-containing organic materials; allowing MDA entry during normal working hours for inspection purposes; reporting any unusual bird deaths or sudden increases in very sick birds; reading up about HPAI on their website etc.

Maryland Farm Bureau President Wayne Stafford said that proper biosecurity plans are important to prevent the spread of disease and protect animal lives. He also encouraged farmers to evaluate and tighten their on-farm practices.

The USDA APHIS website has many valuable resources available for poultry owners including instructional videos which can help mitigate the risk of HPAI on their operation. For more information on avian influenza people can visit MDA's website.

Filed Under: Government, State

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