Migration season represents a cause for concern among Texas poultry farmers, said Dr. Craig Coufal, poultry specialist.
Coufal said the threat of avian influenza is heightened due to annual migrations by wild bird species, particularly waterfowl.
“It’s that time of year,” he said. “You’ve got large numbers of ducks and geese that have been co-mingling and interacting in the north and there is real concern about those migratory birds coming into contact with domestic birds via vectors such as humans, droppings, an airborne contaminant or direct contact. People need to be vigilant about keeping migratory birds away from their domestic birds.”
Coufal said producers should remain vigilant throughout the migration, which typically ends in April when the birds return north. The disease is also more of a challenge in winter months because the virus’s survivability increases in cooler temperatures compared to summertime heat, he said.
Coufal said some tips for biosecurity include:
- Securing poultry houses against wild birds, pets and livestock.
- Restricting visitors from houses and coops, especially without thorough disinfecting.
- Dedicating specific shoes or rubber boots for exclusive use in poultry houses.
- Washing and disinfecting any shared equipment such as scales, feeders and drinkers.
- Initiating rodent and insect control programs.
For more information about avian influenza and biosecurity practices, go to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Poultry Science page: http://posc.tamu.edu/texas-agrilife-poultry-extension-specialists/publications/.
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