Poultry biosecurity checklist for small landholders

Page last updated: Tuesday, 15 January 2019 - 9:17am

The poultry biosecurity checklist summarises the actions needed to protect your poultry and the Western Australian poultry industry from the devastating effects of emergency diseases such as avian influenza or Newcastle disease. Following the checklist will also minimise the potential for introducing common poultry diseases into your flock, such as infectious laryngotracheitis, Marek's disease and coccidiosis. Assess your property's biosecurity against each section to see how well your flock is protected.

Healthy poultry:

  • are bright, alert and active
  • eat often, and interact with others
  • hold their heads high and have clean eyes and nostrils
  • breathe silently and easily.

Sick poultry may show the following signs:

  • swollen heads
  • dullness
  • reduced egg laying
  • rapid, laboured breathing
  • diarrhoea
  • loss of appetite
  • reluctance to move, eat or drink
  • a droopy appearance
  • inability to walk or stand
  • unusual head or neck posture
  • change in the quality of feathers
  • sudden death.

If you see unusual illness or behaviour or unexpected deaths in your poultry, call your vet immediately or the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888.

Poultry biosecurity checklist

The poultry biosecurity checklist below summarises the actions needed to protect your poultry and the WA poultry industry from emergency diseases and to minimise the spread of more common diseases.

Assess your property's biosecurity against each section.

Before you buy poultry:

  • Check whether your local council has any restrictions on owning poultry.

When you buy poultry:

  • Select poultry from a reputable producer or breeder. Do not buy poultry from markets.
  • Do not buy poultry from multiple sources as this increases the risk of introducing disease.
  • Ask the vendor for written details of the flock's health, including vaccinations, treatments and other medications.
  • Isolate new arrivals for at least 14 days so that any diseases that they may be incubating will be visible before you introduce them to the rest of the flock.
  • Attend to new arrivals after your existing flock and use separate equipment, or disinfect equipment after use.
  • If you work in a commercial poultry premise, do not keep poultry at home as you could spread disease from one flock to another.

Biosecurity on property:

  • Inspect poultry daily and isolate birds at the first signs of illness.
  • Report unusual signs of illness to a vet or ring the Emergency Animal Disease Watch hotline on 1800 675 888.
  • Discuss vaccination of poultry with a vet as it is a specialised task.
  • Do not allow other animals, especially wild birds, to have contact with your poultry. Use good shed design, fencing and hygienic feeding practices to keep wild birds separate from your poultry.
  • Do not allow poultry to have access to water used by wild waterbirds.
  • Ensure poultry feed and water sources cannot be contaminated by waterbirds or other animals, pests and rodents.
  • Chlorinate water from dams or rivers before giving to poultry. Test bore water for suitability for use with poultry.
  • Make sure your hands, clothes and footwear are clean before having contact with poultry.
  • Limit visitors to your birds. Ensure visitors to your poultry wear clean clothes and shoes, have clean hands and have not had contact with other poultry on the same day.
  • Keep your equipment and poultry enclosures clean.
  • Do not share equipment with other poultry owners unless it has been thoroughly disinfected.

Moving poultry onto/off your property:

  • Check the health of your poultry before transporting them off your property.
  • Do not move sick animals to a show/gathering on another property.
  • While at an event, use only your own feed and water containers.
  • Where possible, avoid handling other exhibitors' birds. If you do handle other birds, wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Clean and disinfect vehicles, cages and other equipment before leaving and returning to your property.
  • Clean all clothing before returning home after an event.
  • Check the health of your poultry before returning home from an event.
  • Isolate and observe poultry returning from events for 14 days. Call a veterinarian if you see any signs of illness.

Bird biosecurity guidelines

Comprehensive bird biosecurity guidelines, including links to videos of biosecurity practices, can be found on the federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resource's website.

Minimum biosecurity standards for Australia's poultry industry are set out in the National Farm Biosecurity Manual - Poultry Industry and the National Water Biosecurity Manual - Poultry Industry, also available on the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website.

More information

For more information about keeping your poultry healthy, contact your vet or local Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development field vet.