Recent outbreak of avian bird flu virus A in the U.S. poultry population has seen over 53 million chickens culled in the State of Iowa alone thus far in 2022. On the East Coast small poultry farmers and homesteaders such as the Monroe County Marsala family in Upstate NY, have also seen their flocks destroyed as a result of the virus. Their cry on You Tube, It’s Real, Cover Your Birds!
Many chicken keepers love to allow their chickens free range access, where their appetite for pecking on pesky bugs, scavenging and scratching around the yard as they fancy for food to eat is part of a healthy lifestyle for the poultry. When chickens remain in an enclosed space there are both advantages and disadvantages to consider, but the change in lifestyle might be something to seriously consider if your chickens are the ‘out on the town’ variety. Knowing how to protect chickens from bird flu is a great step to saving your flocks. Here’s why:
According to the CDC, unless humans come into direct contact with a chicken carrying chicken flu the risks of human contagion are low. Understanding how chickens become infected with the virus is key to avian flu precautions. U Here’s what the CDC explains
“Wild water birds (like ducks and geese) can be infected with avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses, but usually do not get sick. Infected birds have virus in their saliva, mucous and droppings (feces). Bird flu viruses can spread easily between birds. Some of these viruses can cause serious illness and death in domestic poultry (like chickens, ducks, and turkeys).
Domesticated birds (chickens, turkeys, ducks, etc.) can become infected with bird flu A viruses through direct contact with infected waterfowl or other infected poultry, or through contact with surfaces that have been contaminated with the viruses. Bird Flu is a serious poultry disease and requires rapid response because it is highly contagious and can be fatal to chickens. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) works with its federal, state, local and industry partners to quickly respond to any bird flu findings. Bird flu A(H5) or A(H7) virus outbreaks in poultry, where depopulation (or culling, also called “stamping out”) of infected flocks is usually carried out.
Provision of a covered chicken run or space adjoining the coop can mitigate the risk of the poultry running ‘afowl’ of infected feces/droppings or mucous surfaces where infected wildlife has brought the virus to roost.
Loss of your chicken flock is not something to joke about, and is extremely upsetting, as the Marsala family indicate in their video. Chickens become more than just an investment in egg production, they are often a part of family life and each chicken has its own individual personality which endears some of them more to us than others.
Options for chicken runs do run the gamut in square footage, size and roof styles. Large or small is probably better than none at all. And the covered area provided protection from overhead predators and neighborhood dogs and roaming wildlife.
Selection of the best chicken coop includes consideration for the outdoor activities of its residents.
Full customization of a chicken coop that includes a built-in run is available at Horizon Structures. From human height access doors for easy caregiving duties to large (4’, 5’ or 6’) to wire floor runs and color options to ensure the coop complements existing structures on the property, the array of choices is mind-boggling.
Interaction with wild birds is much less likely when the chickens are secure in their own run. They are also less likely to have an unwanted interaction with a car or other motorized vehicle or wander off to lay eggs where they won’t be found during egg collection time by the caregiver.
With the increasing prevalence of avian flu in the U.S, it may be time to consider a coop with a build in run. You can shop the lot if you want one right way, or place and order and have it delivered to just the right spot in your backyard.