“We must socially keep our birds away from wild birds” Chicken farmers urged to protect their flocks

HELMSBURG, Ind. – You have now heard of the mysterious disease affecting songbirds across the country.

Crispy eyes, neurological signs, dead birds in Hoosier condition as well. There are growing concerns that this mysterious disease could also spread to chickens.

Chicken farmer says keeping his flocks away from flying cousins ​​is harder than you might think.

“It’s very difficult. I go out here and I hunt the birds, but they fly in their barns”, Harmony Hollow Silkies Owner Rebecca Richards said. “I really try to take every possible precaution.”

In easy-to-understand terms, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health says backyard chicken farmers need to “socially distance” their birds from their feathered neighbors.

“We don’t know what happens to songbirds,” said Denise Derrer, director of public information for the Indiana Animal Health Council. “We tell poultry owners to keep their birds away from wild birds and to try to deter any kind of contact as much as possible.”

Because the birds of a feather congregate, following the advice of the advice to keep them separated, is going to be a challenge.

“Let me ask them how do you deal with that when birds are coming in and going out and all over the place,” Richards said. “Especially with my birds roaming free, I think they need to be able to come out and get the fresh air and the grass, clover and things that they need. It’s so hard.

Richards breeds and sells a unique breed of chickens, the Bearded Silkies.

“They are my heart. They are my absolute heart. These chickens are unique, and they are very cuddly. They are simply the best, ”said Richards. “Losing one… It would break my heart, because they’re not just my little pets… but my extra income.”

Richards, like other backyard poultry farmers, should beware of predators. She has installed and buried fences around her yard to keep her flock safe, but the fence does not prevent birds from flying.

“I can’t blame the birds, they fly around the barn to collect extra grain or to find shelter,” Richards said. “It makes my life harder because I don’t want to lose any of my chickens because of it… It would break my heart if I lost one of my little birds. “

Fortunately, there have been no confirmed cases between wild birds and any other pets – let alone chickens, but the Indiana Animal Health Council says prevention is better than cure.

“There hasn’t been any report we can definitively link to this. Not yet at all, but our advice is to be careful because we don’t know if there is still something that can still spread in poultry species, ”Derrer said. “At this time, we have no reports or knowledge that there is a threat to other species. Whether it’s for humans or other kinds of animals, but just to be on the safe side, we recommend that you don’t let your pets catch wild birds and let them eat them and that sort of thing.

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health said it is not concerned about a potential spread to large-scale poultry farms because their facilities are designed to keep wild birds out more effectively than breeders. backyard chickens.

If you have poultry yourself and notice unusual behavior or unexpected death, you are encouraged to call the USDA Healthy Bird Hotline at 866.536.7593.

If you see a dead songbird with crusty eyes, you are asked to report it to the Indiana DNR.


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