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UT Extension Offers Biosecurity Tips for Backyard Flocks

UT Extension Offers Biosecurity Tips for Backyard Flocks

What is Backyard Biosecurity?

Backyard biosecurity means doing everything you can to protect your birds from disease. As a bird owner, keeping your birds healthy is a top priority. Your birds can become sick or die from exposure to just a few unseen bacteria, viruses, or parasites. In a single day, these germs can multiply and infect all of your birds. By practicing backyard biosecurity, you will help keep your birds healthy.

If you follow some basic tips and make them part of your routine, you decrease the risk of disease entering your flock and persisting in soil, droppings, and debris. Practicing biosecurity is an invest­ment in the health of your birds.

What Can I Do To Protect My Birds?

The basic biosecurity steps are:

  1. Keep your distance.
  2. Keep it clean.
  3. Don’t haul disease home.
  4. Don’t borrow disease from your neighbor.
  5. Know the warning signs of infectious bird diseases.
  6. Report sick birds.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Cleaning and disinfecting is one of the most important parts of backyard biosecurity. But you need to make sure you do it correctly to inactivate disease.

  1. Thoroughly clean and scrub objects before applying disinfectants. Disinfectants cannot work on top of caked-on dirt and manure, so wash surfaces thoroughly before disinfecting them.
  2. Apply disinfectants using brushes, sponges and spray units. Allow adequate contact time (follow manufacturer’s instructions).
  3. Dispose of used disinfectant according to local regulations.

Below are some examples of disinfectants available on the market. Follow the directions on the label carefully for the best results.

  • Nolvasan® (chlorhexidine diacetate 2 percent): Mix 3 fluid oz of Nolvasan per gallon of water.
  • Household bleach (sodium hypochlorite 6 percent): Mix three-fourths of a cup of household bleach per gallon of water.
  • Lysol® spray for footwear
  • Purell® hand pump for hand disinfection

Making an Easy Footbath

A footbath is a handy tool to help you practice backyard biosecurity. You can easily make one yourself. You will need:

  • A low plastic pan or bin, wide enough to fit an adult’s foot and shallow enough to step into easily.
  • A plastic doormat (the “fake grass” mats work well).
  • A disinfectant that works well for most situations, as described aboveWater

Mix the disinfectant with water according to the label instructions. Put the doormat in the plastic pan. Add mixed disinfectant so that the bottom of the mat is wet.

Ask visitors to walk through the footbath, wiping their feet on the mat. The mat scrubs their shoes a bit as they wipe them and applies the disinfectant.

When the liquid starts to get dirty, empty it and put in new disinfectant.

Report Sick Birds

  • Call your local cooperative extension office, or local veterinarian
  • S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Veterinary Services @ 1–866–536–7593
  • Charlie Hatcher’s office 615-837-5120.

Making biosecurity a part of your daily routine while caring for your birds can decrease the chance of Avian Influenza showing up on your doorstep. If you have any questions please feel to contact me, Lew Strickland, at [email protected] or 865-974-3538.


Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) Backyard Biosecurity Checklist

__ Poultry pens are bird-proofed against wild or free-flying birds.

__ Measures are in place to prevent the accidental entrance of wildlife and to remove them from poultry pens and other areas should they gain entrance.

__ Dogs and cats are not allowed in poultry areas.

__ Feed bins are secured to prevent contamination by wild birds or rodents, and spilled feed is cleaned up promptly to prevent attracting wild birds and rodents.

__ Water is drawn from secure sources that cannot be accessed by free-flying birds or rodents

Biosecurity Equipment

__ Footbaths are used, and changed if the footbath collects excessive dirt, egg contents, or manure.

__ Hand washing or hand-sanitizing stations are available.

__ Equipment and tools brought to the farm are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to use.

__ Chicken transport equipment (carts, crates, etc.) is cleaned and disinfected prior to use.

__ Only clean, sanitized, and disinfected plastic egg cartons, or new disposable cartons are allowed on the farm.

__ Cleaned and disinfected equipment is held under conditions that prevent exposure to wild birds.


About UT Extension - Sevier County

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. It is a statewide educational organization, funded by federal, state and local governments, that brings research-based information about agriculture, family and consumer sciences, and resource development to the people of Tennessee where they live and work. Sevier News Messenger distributes UT Extension news as a courtesy. UT Extension – Sevier County can be found at