Biosecurity Important for Small Poultry Flocks

Biosecurity Important for Small Poultry Flocks

Recent reports of salmonella sickness by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has caused an increased focus on animal-human interaction. According to these reports, over 100 people in multiple states have been ill with salmonella. The CDC states that the most likely cause is their interaction with live poultry in backyard flocks. More recently, there have been at least 18 outbreaks of Virulent Newcastle Disease in Southern California. This disease is a highly contagious and often fatal virus that affects the respiratory, nervous, and digestive system of birds and poultry. It is important to note that no human cases of Newcastle have been reported from the consumption of poultry products (proper handling and cooking is always important.)

These reports are a good reminder that proper biosecurity by both small poultry flock owners and visitors should be exercised. It should come as no surprise that there are associated risks with livestock production, even in the smallest backyard flocks. Poultry are in constant contact with the outside world and their desire to scratch and peck the ground exposes them to numerous biological pathogens. Standard biosecurity practices within a home flock should become normal practice for poultry owners and can be easily implemented. Some steps you can take to best secure your flock include:

  • Washing, rinsing and disinfecting feeders and waterers every week to 10 days. More often if heavily used
  • Quarantine any birds that appear to have even slight to moderate symptoms of abnormalities
  • Implement a pest control program, this should include rodents, insects, and snakes.
  • Secure your poultry from natural predators, this may include a family pet like a dog or cat
  • Limit the number of people who encounter your poultry, especially family or friends who own flocks
  • Ensure you are acquiring birds from reputable sources. Most commercial hatcheries have stringent biosecurity measures at their facilities.
  • Quarantine any new birds for at least 14-21 days before introducing them to your flock .
  • Wash your hands before and after handling birds. A disinfectant by the coop can be handy as well.

Enjoying your backyard flock should be one of the delights of raising poultry on your own. They provide hours of entertainment and usually a few eggs each day! Ensuring that you and your animals are safe should be a top priority. As always, reach out to professionals, hatcheries, Extension agents, or other seasoned poultry owners for information.

These University of Florida publications are also great resources for additional information.

Bio-security for the Poultry Industry

The Role of Humans in Poultry Disease Outbreaks



Future Livestock Producers are Developed through Local Livestock Shows

Future Livestock Producers are Developed through Local Livestock Shows


Christian Rodriguez of Live Oak, with his Brahman Heifer, Welu. Credit: Tyler Jones

Audrey Bodiford, of Jay, FL, winner of the 2017 SRC Fair & Youth Livestock Show Spirit Award.

Santa Rosa County Extension Agents have worked closely with the Santa Rosa County Fair over the last five years to grow the livestock show. The Santa Rosa County Fair (SRC Fair) is held in April each year, but requires considerable planning throughout the year. The board has many sub-committees that focus on the various events of the fair. These committees meet numerous times throughout the year planning their specific activities.  Their efforts come together on opening day to make the SRC Fair and Youth Livestock Show an enjoyable time for our area residents. With the support and efforts of the Gulf Coast Agriculture & Natural Resource Youth Organization (GCANRYO) and the Santa Rosa County Fair Board, the livestock show has grown from a handful to over 300 youth participants this year.

Jenny is just one example of how these type programs can nurture the development of life skills and passion for the livestock industry. Jenny was a very shy youth who had a passion for raising livestock. However, she struggled with communicating with adults outside her family who were prospective buyers and sponsors. She attended a buyer communication workshop that was presented at the local Extension Office. After attending the workshop, she was more comfortable pursuing financial support for her steer project. At the livestock show and sale, she informed the extension agents that she had secured a buyer for $3.00 a pound and had received over $2,500 in sponsorship’s for her project in 2016.  This year, her steer project was even more successful building on what she had learned the previous year.  At a nutrition workshop held at the beginning stages of the project year, Jenny shared that she had already secured $3,150 in sponsorship and had a buyer for her steer!  While securing auction buyers, and project sponsors is not a true commercial business model, the communication skills and self-confidence gained from this experience will aid these youth for the rest of their lives.

Livestock committees are tasked with ensuring all the infrastructure is in place for our 4-H and FFA youth to show and exhibit their livestock projects consisting of: beef cattle, swine, goats, poultry, rabbits and horses.  The 2018 SRC Fair and Youth Livestock show is just around the corner. It is open to youth across the Panhandle. If your kids, grandkids or neighbors have in interest in livestock, please share this information with them and their parents.  Offer them facilities and equipment to use for livestock projects, or just assistance getting started in the livestock industry.  Give generously of your time, talent and experience to volunteer and support your local livestock show.   Through organized shows, farmers and ranchers can make a difference in the lives of youth that  will impact them for the rest of their lives.  These are the future leaders of our communities, and in some cases of the agricultural industry in this region.  Find a way to get involved, even if only through financial contributions.

Key Upcoming Dates for the Santa Rosa County Fair:

  • Saturday, November 4, 2017 – Market Steer Weigh-in and registration – 3 pm- 5 pm
  • Saturday, January 6, 2018 – Market Hog Weigh-in and registration –  , 10 am – 12 noon
  • Livestock Show dates are:
    • March 29th – Youth Rabbit Show
    • April 1st  –  Youth Poultry Showmanship
    • April 6th – Youth Goat Shows
    • April 7th  – Youth Beef Cattle and Hog Shows

For rules and further information please visit the SRC Fair website.

Friday Funny:  The Chicken Cannon

Friday Funny: The Chicken Cannon

It has been 10 months since we shared a Friday Funny, due to a lack of good material.  Special thanks to Ed Jowers, Emeritus Jackson County Extension Director for sending this funny story to share:

Photo Credit: Scott Sommerdorf

The Chicken Cannon

Scientists at NASA built a special cannon to launch standard 6-pound, whole dead chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity.  The idea was to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields.

Engineers working on the Bullet Train project heard about the cannon and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed trains. Arrangements were made, and a cannon was sent to the Bullet Train engineers.

The engineers were excited to see the results of years of hard work and planning.  They set up the experiment and even invited several government officials to attend that had championed the funding of this project.  They had a grand ceremony with a countdown.  The speedy bullet train roared down the test track at over 200 mph and the engineers fired the chicken cannon.

After the canon was fired, the engineers stood in shock as they viewed in horror at the damage.  The shatterproof glass was smashed to smithereens, there was a huge hole in the control console, the driver’s seat had the head rest blown off, and the chicken embedded into the back wall of the train engine’s cabin.

Luckily this was an unmanned test, so no one was hurt except for the pride of the engineers.  It was as if they were little boys who broke their prize Christmas present.  That chicken trashed their modern marvel.

Immediately the engineers began assessing the damages, took numerous photos and measurements and sent a full report, along with their pages of scientific designs to engineers at NASA.  The desperate engineers were totally dumbfounded and asked for an explanation of what could have possibly gone wrong?  Their email to the head engineer at NASA said, “Please help us understand how to resolve this issue.  We followed all standard protocols and double checked every safety precaution prior to the test with the chicken cannon!

In just a few minutes, the Bullet Train engineers were shocked by the rapid response.  The head engineer at NASA responded with just one short line in bold, all capital letters:




If you enjoyed this week’s joke, you might also enjoy others from the past: Friday Funnies

Farm folks always enjoy sharing good jokes, photos and stories.  If you have a good, clean joke, particularly one that pertains to agriculture, or a funny photo that you took on the farm, send it in and we will share it with our readers.




Friday Feature:  Preventing Needlestick Injuries to Ranch Hands

Friday Feature: Preventing Needlestick Injuries to Ranch Hands

More than 80% of workers on livestock farms have accidentally stuck themselves with needles used for vaccine and drug administration.  Accidental needlestick injuries are usually minor, but can be serious with skin infections, allergic reactions, and deep tissue wounds that require surgery.   This week’s featured video was developed by the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH) to be used to provide employee training for dairy farm workers.  These same principles apply to workers on any type of livestock operation who are using disposable hypodermic needles for vaccine and drug administration.

Key Points to Emphasize with employees or family members regarding needle safety:

Don’t Get Stuck (Prevention)

  • Slow down and don’t rush injections

  • Restrain animals properly

  • Get help from coworkers to properly restrain animals before injection

  • Use good techniques and the correct equipment with every animal

  • Don’t remove needle caps with your mouth

  • Don’t recap used needles (Never try to reinsert used needles into the cap held in your mouth or hand)

  • Dispose of used needles in a rigid sharps disposal container

  • Discard bent, dull, or dirty needles that contact mud and manure

  • Don’t carry around syringes with needles in shirt or pants pockets while working with animals

  • Don’t dispose used needles into normal trash containers

Been Stuck (Care after accidental injection)

  • Stop working to provide care for the wound

  • Immediately wash skin thoroughly with soap and water

  • Apply topical disinfectant

  • Bandage puncture wound to prevent further contamination

  • Report injury to supervisor

  • Contact your health care provider to ensure tetnus vaccinations are current and to seek advice for wound care

To share this information with employees, print out the needlestick safety poster to display near chutes, handling facilities, and drug storage areas:

Don’t Get Stuck Needlestick Prevention Safety Poster


If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks:  Friday Features

If you come across a humorous video or interesting story related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to:  Doug Mayo



Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Contact with Live Poultry

Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Contact with Live Poultry

Even cute, seemingly healthy baby chicks and ducks can carry Salmonella bacteria. Photo by Judy Biss

Last summer the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported 611 people from 45 states got Salmonella infections from contact with their poultry.  This year, through the end of May 2017, 372 people from 47 states have gotten sick from Salmonella infections related to poultry.  Of the 372, 71 were hospitalized, and 133 (36%) of the ill people were children under the age of 5.  No deaths have been reported.

Number of outbreak strain Salmonella cases by state. Source:

Poultry can carry Salmonella and show no signs of illness. Salmonella germs are spread from poultry through their droppings. The droppings or anything that has been in contact with droppings (the birds’ feet, legs, feathers, cages, etc.) can have Salmonella germs present. When humans come into contact with a contaminated surface they can pick up the germs. In order for Salmonella to make people sick it must enter the body, usually through the mouth. Careful, thorough, hand washing is key to protecting yourself from Salmonella if you are in contact with live poultry or facilities where poultry have been kept.

People become infected with Salmonella when they put their contaminated hands or other things that have been in contact with live poultry in or around their mouth. Young children are more likely to get sick because their immune systems are still developing and they are more likely to put their fingers or other items into their mouths. Some people who have contact with items in the area where poultry live can become ill without actually touching one of the birds.  Germs on your hands can spread easily to other people or surfaces, which is why it’s important to wash hands immediately after touching poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.  Centers for Disease Control

CDC’s Advice for Small Poultry Flock Owners

Contact with live poultry and their environment can make people sick with Salmonella infections. Live poultry can be carrying Salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean and show no signs of illness. Follow these steps for protecting yourself and others while enjoying backyard poultry:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Also wash your hands after handling clothes and shoes that have touched live poultry. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.
    • Do not eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
  • Children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry. People in these groups are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.
  • Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.
  • Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for live poultry, such as cages, feed, or water containers.
  • Read CDC’s recommendations for taking care of your backyard flock, which apply to all live poultry, regardless of the age of the birds or where they were purchased.

Human Salmonella Infection Symptoms and Treatment

According to the CDC, Salmonella infections in people may cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps.  Salmonella infections in people are usually resolved within 5-7 days with minimal treatment, other than drinking plenty of fluids. Severe diarrhea may require hospitalization for re-hydration with intravenous fluids.  Make physicians aware of potential contamination from contact with poultry.  Lab tests are recommended to determine if Salmonella is the cause of the illness.   Infants, elderly persons, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. In cases of severe infection, Salmonella can spread from the intestines through the bloodstream throughout the body.  Death can result from severe infections without prompt antibiotic treatment.

Links to more information on this subject:

Salmonella Infections Linked to Live Poultry in 2017

CDC’s Salmonella website

What Are the Risks of Contracting Diseases Associated with Chickens?


What are the Requirements to Sell Eggs and Dressed Poultry from Florida Small Farms?

What are the Requirements to Sell Eggs and Dressed Poultry from Florida Small Farms?

Pasture raised poultry. UF/IFAS Photo by Tom Wright.

Many small farms have poultry as part of their operation to supply eggs and meat for their immediate and extended family.  With recent federal and state rule changes, however, it is now possible to sell both eggs and dressed poultry direct from the farm to consumers.  Eggs and whole, dressed poultry can be sold through farmer’s markets, roadside stands, and even direct to restaurants for preparation for consumption.

Florida’s rules about small farm poultry and egg sales changed in July 2014.  Small farm poultry producers can now apply for a Limited Poultry and Egg Farm Permit, which allows for the sale of eggs and whole, dressed poultry directly to consumers or to restaurants for the preparation of meals for consumption.
A Limited Poultry and Egg Farm Operation is defined as a farm-based food establishment which directly produces and offers dressed poultry or whole shell eggs for sale. No additional processing or food preparation of such poultry or shell eggs is allowed under this permit category. These small farm operations are limited to up to 1,000 laying hens annually for production and sale of shell eggs, and/or up to 20,000 poultry annually for the production and sale of dressed poultry. – Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS)

With a Limited Poultry and Egg Permit you can sell up to 30 dozen eggs and/or up to 384 dressed poultry in any one week within the state of Florida.  Interstate sales or Internet sales are not permitted, however.  Under these guidelines poultry includes chicken, turkey, duck, goose, guinea fowl, or quail.  Poultry or eggs cannot be sold wholesale to a retail outlet or other vendor under this permit.  The annual permit fee is $110.

UF/IFAS file photo

Egg Sales

Under the Limited Poultry Permit, there are set rules for the sale of eggs direct to consumers.  Eggs must be washed and air dried using an egg washing machine or a three compartment sink using products from the list of “Approved Cleaners and Sanitizers.” Eggs have to be maintained at or below 45° before sale. Eggs must be sold in open flats, not cartons, with at least a 7″ x 7″ sign at the point of sale which reads “These eggs have not been graded as to quality and weight.

Dressed Poultry Sales

Small farms can also sell whole, dressed birds.  Dressed poultry shall be maintained at or below 41° before sale.  There are specific label requirements for dressed poultry that include instructions for consumers on safe handling (see example below). Poultry shall be packaged and labeled with the processor’s name, farm address, the statement “Exempt P.L. 90-492,” and required Safe Handling Instructions.

The “Safe Handling Instructions” on dressed poultry packaging label must include the following phrases:

  • Some food products may contain bacteria that could cause illness if the product is mishandled or cooked improperly. For your protection, follow these safe handling instructions.
  • Keep refrigerated or frozen. Thaw in refrigerator or microwave.
  • Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces (including cutting boards), utensils, and hands after touching raw meat or poultry.
  • Cook thoroughly.
  • Keep hot foods hot. Refrigerate leftovers immediately or discard.
An application for permitting and request for an inspection can be completed through the FDACS Division of Food Safety or by calling 850-245-5520.
For more information, use the following links to fact-sheets on this topic: