Small Scale Poultry/Bird Owner - General Biosecurity Duty

​​​​​​​Owning or looking after poultry or birds for small scale production, or to have in your backyard, means that you have an important role to play in helping to protect your animals, the poultry industry, the community, and the state from the impact of p​ests, weeds, diseases, and food-borne illnesses. 

Listed below are some biosecurity actions you can take to meet your General Biosecurity Duty (GBD) and to help keep your birds, business - and Tasmania - biosecurity safe.

Develop a Biosecurity Plan

Developing and implementing an appropriate biosecurity plan for your property is a key step that you can take. Biosecurity plans should contain actions aimed at preventing the introduction or spread of pests, weeds and disease on your property. They are also a good way to educate staff, visitors and clients on the importance of biosecurity. There are many on-line resources to assist with this – the Farm Biosecurity website is a great starting point​.​​​

Important Biosecurity Actions

Biosecurity vigilance (also known as Notification of a Biosecurity Event)​

  • If you SEE something on your property or place of employment that is unusual or of biosecurity concern, such as potential exotic plant/animal pests, weeds or diseases, or invasive animal species OR if you SEE ​animals looking unwell and you suspect a pest or disease outbreak, or have seen something unusual and you are not sure whether it is an Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) or not;

  • SECURE the site by restricting access (and limiting movement/isolating animals in the case of suspected animal diseases) AND take a photo, noting the location; and then

  • REPORT it to Biosecurity Tasmania as soon as possible (see reporting details below), or for sick/diseased/deceased animals, seek advice from your veterinarian​​. National Notifiable Diseases must be reported as a biosecurity event as soon as practicable after a person becomes aware of, or reasonably suspects, the occurrence or likely occurrence of the biosecurity event. In the case of an animal disease, your vet can help you determine whether the disease needs to be reported.
Please note: Taking samples in the field may increase the risk of spreading the biosecurity risk, and some animal diseases could be dangerous to your health, so Biosecurity Tasmania will provide further instruction regarding possible sample collection and submission.​

Poultry and birds 

  • Regularly check and inspect your birds for signs of disease, injury or death.

  • Engage the services of a veterinarian and maintain a working relationship to help manage the health and welfare requirements of your birds (and other animals) as required. Contact your veterinarian for help for any sick or injured animals as soon as practicable. 

  • Apply animal welfare requirements, as described in relevant legislation, codes of practice, guidelines and quality assurance programs.

  • Discuss any required vaccination and worming strategies for your birds with your veterinarian.

  • Purchase birds of a known health status from a reputable breeder or producer. If possible, quarantine new birds from any others on your property for at least two weeks (preferably six weeks).

  • Regularly check enclosures and repair any damage to prevent the escape or entry of birds or other animals (including wild birds and rodents).

  • Ensure carcasses of any animals (including birds) on or in the premises are buried, burned or otherwise suitably disposed of within a reasonable time after the carcass has been discovered. Do not allow pets (dogs and cats) or other livestock access to bird carcasses. Wear gloves when handling sick birds or carcasses.

  • Store poultry/bird feed in a secure, cool and dry place to prevent contamination from wild bird or rodent access and to prevent the feed degrading. 

  • Ensure wild birds are unable to access feeders and your birds’ water supply in free-range settings (for example, do not have feeders out in the open - protect the feeders under shelter or use special feeders that deter mixing with wild birds). 

  • The drinking water supplied to your birds should be treated (chlorinated) mains water, high quality bore water, or water treated with chlorine from other sources to help minimise disease risk.

  • Practice good hand hygiene when handling birds, including when collecting eggs and cleaning enclosures.

  • Clean the areas your birds are housed in at least once a week and clean and disinfect feed containers regularly.​

  • Do not share equipment and enclosures with other bird keepers unless it has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

  • Restrict visitor access or handling of birds, especially by visitors who have their own poultry.

  • Clean clothes and footwear before and after visiting someone else’s property with poultry/birds.

  • If you spread old chicken litter​ on paddocks as a fertiliser, do not allow ruminants such as sheep, goats or cattle to graze the area until there has been sufficient pasture growth to absorb the litter (at least 21 days in good growing weather, or longer if growth is poor and you can still see the litter material).​

For more information on bird diseases such as Avian Influenza and to learn more about biosecurity for bird keepers download the Biosecurity Checklist​

Pests, weeds and diseases

  • Understand your responsibilities in the control of declared weeds​ on your property and take all reasonable measures to limit their impact and spread. Visit the webpages for more information on weeds in Tasmania.

  • Ensure that agricultural and veterinary chemicals are used as per label, or applicable off-label permit (i.e. appropriately to minimise risk to human health, animal health, plant health and the environment). Visit the website for information on AgVet chemical use in Tasmania.

  • Work with licenced pest controllers and Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (NRE Tas), where required, in the control and management of pest animals, such as rabbits, on your property.

Importing items into Tasmania

If you are purchasing goods from outside Tasmania for your farm or production site (especially stockfeed, seeds, plants and plant products, or some animal products such as semen) you need to you need to check whether they are permitted to be imported into Tasmania.​​

Commercial egg production

If you intend to sell the eggs your hens produce for human consumption, you need to be aware of Tasmania’s Egg Food Safety Scheme (Egg Scheme). 

If you sell eggs to cafes, markets, shops, food service businesses, or for other commercial or wholesale purposes, you may be required to notify Biosecurity Tasmania of your egg production activities

To check if you are required to register under the Egg Scheme (including what category of accreditation may apply to you and the corresponding application forms), ​​visit Biosecurity Tasmania’s Egg Industry webpage or contact Biosecurity Tasmania.

Organisations such as Australian Eggs which conducts marketing and research and development for the egg industry, and Egg Farmers of Australia which is the representative body for egg farmers in Australia, are great resources for egg producers.

Contact and reporting

Contact Biosecurity Tasmania for general information or to report a suspected pest, weed or disease:

Phone: (03) 6165 3777

Alternatively, for reporting pests, weeds or diseases, you can call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline (1800 084 881) or the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline (1800 675 858). 

Stay up to date on Biosecurity in Tasmania

Subscribing to get Tasmanian Biosecurity Advisories is the best way you can keep yourself up-to-date and fully informed about Tasmanian biosecurity issues. Our Advisories cover topics such as changes or proposed changes to Tasmania’s import regulations, animal health and welfare, plant health, forthcoming regulation reviews and opportunities for public comment, new or emerging pest/disease risks and a range of other matters related to Tasmania’s biosecurity​

Please note that this information contains minimum recommendations only. The GBD requires a person dealing with biosecurity matter or a carrier to take all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk associated with the dealing. Such measures may not be specified in any regulations, guidelines or other official publications.