chickens in the yard

Resources for Backyard Flocks

HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu – Resources for Backyard Flocks
(Non-Commercial/Pleasure/Hobby/Small Flocks)

HPAI is a deadly disease for poultry. It can infect poultry such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese, and guinea fowl and wild birds, including waterfowl, raptors, and corvids. HPAI is extremely infectious and can spread easily and rapidly from bird to bird and flock to flock. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this strain of HPAI is not known to present a public health concern.

All those involved in poultry production to take extra steps to prevent their flocks from becoming infected. All poultry producers, from small backyard hobby producers to large commercial operations, should take precautions to protect their birds and review their biosecurity plans. Biosecurity refers to everything you can do to keep diseases – and the viruses, bacteria, funguses, parasites, and other microorganisms that cause disease – away from birds, property, and people. Some best practices are listed below; find more at: Tips on Protecting Your Birds.

Best practices include:

  • Discourage unnecessary visitors and using biosecurity signs to warn people not to enter buildings without permission
  • Ask all visitors if they have had any contact with any birds in the past five days
  • Forbid entry to employees and visitors who own any kind of fowl
  • Require all visitors to cover and disinfect all footwear
  • Lock all entrances to chicken houses after hours
  • Avoid non-essential vehicular traffic on-farm
  • Clean and disinfecting poultry transport coops and vehicles between hauling birds to processors and returning to the farm
  • Reduce wild bird attractants by storing poultry feed in covered containers, cleaning any feed spillage immediately, fencing off ponds where wild birds congregate and remove any areas of standing water, keeping poultry waste and carcasses securely covered at all times, refraining from walking or moving equipment through areas where waterfowl droppings may be present, and limiting outdoor access for poultry during high-risk periods, such as migration season
  • Report anything unusual, especially sick or dead birds: NYS Department of Ag and Markets Division of Animal Industry, (518) 457-3502, or USDA (866) 536-7593); or for wild birds, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, (631) 444-0310.

Birds affected with HPAI may show one or more of the following clinical signs: sudden death without clinical signs; lack of energy and appetite; decreased egg production; soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks; purple discoloration of the wattles, combs, and legs; nasal discharge; coughing, sneezing; lack of coordination; and diarrhea. The Highly Pathogenic strain can spread and kill an entire flock within days, backyard flocks included. Many, if not all, of the birds in a flock will be affected.

To report sick birds, unexplained high number of deaths, or sudden drop in egg production, please contact AGM’s Division of Animal Industry at (518) 457-3502 or the USDA at (866) 536-7593.

Unusual illness and deaths of wild birds can be reported to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, (631) 444-0310.


Avian Influenza FAQs

USDA Defend the Flock!

Biosecurity 101

Resource Center (English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalong)

Defend the Flock FaceBook:

Defend the Flock YouTube:

Defend the Flock Twitter:

Backyard Poultry, information from the CDC on keeping your birds and yourself healthy

Last updated May 14, 2024