Protect your poultry and pet birds
Wild birds can carry diseases such as avian influenza, Newcastle disease and Salmonella. There is a small risk that they could infect domestic poultry or even pet birds. A few basic precautions will minimise that risk:
- Store bird or poultry feed and feed it out in a manner that avoids contamination from wild birds and rodents.
- If your birds are free range ensure the feeder is protected under shelters or in special feeders that deter mixing with wild birds rather than having feeders out in the open.
- Ensure wild birds cannot access your bird or poultry water supply, as this can be another significant contamination risk. A protected water supply, straight from the tap, is best. If you have to use dam water, you should chlorinate it.
- Always wash hands thoroughly after handling your birds, collecting the eggs, cleaning out their cages or bird baths or doing anything else that involves coming into contact with them or their droppings.
- If you attract birds into your garden with bird feeders, ensure that they are placed in areas where you are unlikely to be in contact with their droppings.
- Prevent your cat from killing and eating wild birds.
- Clean bird areas at least once a week and clean and disinfect feed containers regularly.
Avian Influenza and Biosecurity Checklist for Bird Keepers - further advice and information to help minimise the risk of Avian Influenza and a range of other diseases.
Salmonella Enteritidis (SE)
Salmonella is a bacteria commonly found in animals, including poultry. It can cause illness to humans such as gastroenteritis (commonly known as ‘gastro’) when contaminated food is consumed. In Tasmania Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) is a List B Notifiable Animal Disease with serious human health impacts that has been detected in NSW and Victorian commercial egg laying flocks.
Detection of Salmonella Enteritidis in Tasmanian poultry may result in flock de-population under the Biosecurity Act 2019.
Biosecurity guidelines to reduce the risk of Salmonella to your poultry
It is recommended that Tasmanian poultry owners have a documented Biosecurity Program to monitor for and prevent the introduction of Salmonella Enteritidis onto their property, and to stop spread between poultry sheds. Precautions should include:
- Make due enquiry about the origin of any adult birds ('spent' or 'end of lay' hens). Their purchase is not recommended if imported from interstate flocks that are not accredited for SE freedom.
- Buy pullets and fertilised eggs that are from SE-free accredited flocks (reputable breeders).
- Buying feed from a mill that monitors for Salmonella.
- Becoming a member of the Egg Standards of Australia voluntary quality assurance program.
- Having a documented ingredient and feed testing program for home diets – sighted during audits.
- Not allowing people coming back from overseas and suffering from diarrhoea to work on the farm or handle birds.
- Storing eggs on-farm promptly in a cool environment where the thermostat temperature is set at less than 15⁰C, but greater than 1⁰C.
- Providing birds with drinking water derived from town water or water that has been effectively sanitised in line with the National Water Biosecurity Manual - Poultry Production.
- An appropriate vaccination strategy after discussion with your private veterinarian.
- Implementing an effective auditable vermin control program and using rodenticides in compliance with Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) label instructions.
- Storing feed in areas not accessible to other animals (including vermin).
- Ensuring workers, particularly in the egg collection processing area, are familiar with and follow personal hygiene measures to minimise the risk of transferring Salmonella from humans to poultry or eggs.
- Following recommended industry practices on the farm, particularly in the egg collection and grading area, in order to minimise risks associated with SE cross-contamination between equipment, eggs and humans.
- Cleaning shared equipment before it is used.
Testing your flock for Salmonella is recommended if there are any doubts or concerns, contact NRE Tas:
Diagnosis of Poultry Diseases (NRE Tas)
Further information on Salmonella Enteritidis can be found at:
Salmonella Enteritidis (NSW DPI)
Biosecurity (Salmonella Enteritidis) Control Order 2020 (NSW DPI)
Salmonella Enteritidis (Agriculture Victoria)
Biosecurity guidelines to reduce the risk of Salmonella to your poultry (780Kb)
Biosecurity guidelines for poultry / bird shows
If you take poultry to bird shows, there are some important biosecurity steps that should be taken to minimise the risk of disease. These include:
- Show organisers should keep different species separate wherever possible. In particular, waterfowl should not be displayed near pigeons, poultry or other birds.
- Show organisers should have a vet in attendance or contactable by phone during the show.
- Judges should wash and, ideally, disinfect their hands between handling birds.
- Exhibitors should not take any bird to a show if it looks ill.
- Exhibitors should avoid handling birds other than their own, but if they do they should wash their hands in between handling birds.
- Exhibitors should clean and disinfect all equipment and containers before and after the show and should also ensure their show birds are kept separate from the rest of their flock for a while before they are put back in the flock.
Using poultry litter as fertiliser
If you spread old chicken litter onto your paddocks as fertiliser, do not graze these paddocks with sheep, goats or cattle until there has been sufficient pasture growth to absorb all the litter - that's around 21 days in good growing weather, longer if growth is poor.
The Department has produced a biosecurity fact sheet which explains the risks of using poultry litter as fertilisers and the simple steps you need to take to minimise these risks:
Using poultry litter as fertiliser (281Kb)