Avian influenza (AI), commonly referred to as “bird flu”is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause sickness and death in domestic poultry. -David D. Frame, USU Extension Poultry Specialist

If you are raising backyard chickens this could affect you! Here are 5 quick tips taken from USU Extension’s Live Well Utah blog to keep your chickens healthy and happy. Good cluck!

1. Do not co-mingle chickens and other poultry with waterfowl.

Waterfowl are the natural hosts of bird flu. Even though waterfowl may not show signs of illness, they can still be carriers of the flu.

*Counties adjacent to large bodies of water where migrating waterfowl tend to congregate are at greater risk, including Box Elder, Weber, Davis, Salt Lake, Tooele, Juab and Utah counties.

2. Provide clean drinking water for your chickens.

Water for your chickens should be clean and chlorinated. If possible, use water from a culinary source. Never allow your chickens to have access to swamps, ponds or ditches because water from these sources could easily cause illness.

3. Avoid visiting neighbors’ chicken flocks.

You never know if your neighbors’ chickens are sick and infected. Although their chickens might seem healthy, sometimes it takes a little while for symptoms to appear.

4. Use dedicated footwear and outerwear when caring for your flock.

You never know when you might come in contact with viruses. To stay on the safe side, only use footwear and outerwear that is dedicated to caring for your flock. To make this easier, leave boots and coveralls in an adjacent covered container.

5. Keep chickens in an escape-proof enclosure.

Chickens can stay in backyard runs or coops. Make sure they are completely covered with wire or netting. Housing your flock in an enclosed space will keep them away from other birds that might contaminate them.

*Final Note* Report sick birds immediately! If you notice any unexpected high mortality in a group of chickens or other domestic poultry contact the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food: (801) 538-7100. Unusual wild bird/waterfowl die-offs are to immediately be reported to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources: (801) 538-4700.

For further information, a recorded presentation of a recent webinar on avian influenza presented by David Frame and Warren Hess can found here.

This flyer contains more information on avian influenza along with links to learn more.