Growing poultry is both a privilege and a pleasure, and it comes with a certain burden of responsibility. Obviously, our first responsibility is to the welfare of our birds, and secondly our customers, who are relying on us to produce a top quality product that is both safe and enjoyable.
Another area of responsibility that is sometimes overlooked is our responsibility to the Australian poultry industry in general. Due to our tight quarantine protocols and border protection policies, our country is regarded to be free of many exotic avian diseases, notably Avian Influenza. This allows us to protect our domestic industry from imported products and ensures a better, disease free life for our birds.
As a small-scale poultry producer, a good place to start is to take the time to familiarise yourself with the websites listed below and the National Farm Bio-security Manual Poultry Production. Please keep in mind however that much of the information refers to conventional fixed shed poultry farms. Even so, it is still important to remember that as poultry producers we need to consider our place in the national bio-security equation, and make every effort to do our part to minimise the risk of exposure or spread of avian diseases. Traditionally, small-scale family farms have always kept a mixture of livestock, however once a farmer chooses to produce larger numbers of poultry on a commercial scale disease problems can quietly build in the background and bite hard when you least expect it, sometimes crippling production. As a good foundation, we recommend that meat chickens are housed and managed separately from all other avian species and pigs on small-scale family farms, and any sharing of staff and equipment should be subject to appropriate bio-security practices.
Backyard poultry fanciers can also do their part by applying some basic bio-security practices. For example: whenever you bring new birds onto your place from “a friend down the road”, or enter birds into a show and then bring them back home, it’s important to quarantine them for a few days away from the rest of your poultry. During this time watch for any disease symptoms and perhaps worm them and treat for external parasites. Some poultry disease organisms can live on or in humans for up to a week – on our clothes, in our hair, ears, nasal passages etc. As a bare minimum don’t wear the same shoes from a friend’s poultry yard back into your own poultry yard.
Sommerlads’ Poultry Farm Bio-Security Protocols for Visitors