Specialists urging growers to be diligent in practicing proper biosecurity
Though reported incidents of a relatively new-to-Delmarva poultry disease have not increased past two initial cases, poultry specialists continue to urge growers to be diligent in practicing proper biosecurity on their farms.
In early January, two cases of Infectious Coryza in Delaware prompted the cancellation of Poultry Day, a series of presentations to aid commercial growers during Delaware Agriculture Week.
“We really wanted to err on the side of caution,” said Georgie Cartanza, University of Delaware Extension poultry agent.
The disease was first detected on the Delmarva Peninsula in backyard flocks during the summer of 2019 and in commercial layers in fall of 2019 before arising in two commercial broiler flocks in 2020.
Though it is a new disease for Delmarva growers, it is currently found in poultry in several regions of the United States and has been around for many years.
Cartanza said she likened the disease to “a bad cold” for chickens.
Clinical signs in broilers are variable but may include the following: Nasal discharge, eye inflammation, respiratory disease with or without swelling of the head, high mortality in the absence of clear respiratory disease and marked decrease in feed and/or water consumption.
It doesn’t affect humans, and poultry meat and eggs from infected birds are safe to consume after proper processing and cooking.
It can be spread from farm to farm by people carrying the bacteria on their clothes, shoes and hands, litter remaining on equipment that has been in infected houses along with the birds consuming contaminated feed or water and from their respiratory secretions.
Work crews and other visitors who do not change clothing between poultry farms are known to spread Coryza from infected farms to clean farms.
Carcasses of dead poultry that are not properly composted are able to spread Coryza if infected carcasses are carried from farm to farm by animals such as raccoons, foxes or feral cats.
State agencies and specialists added that proper biosecurity practices are effective in keeping the disease maintained.
“I’m really hoping it’s done,” said Dr. Jonathan Moyle, University of Maryland Extension poultry specialist. “Growers stepped up their biosecurity and it hasn’t spread as far as we can see.”
Moyle said better biosecurity is crucial to overall bird health, not just managing for certain diseases.
He said after increased biosecurity measures were instituted to defend against avian influenza, incidence of laryngotracheitis dropped significantly.
“It goes for everything,” Moyle said. “It’s about all the diseases, not a disease.”
Biosecurity measures urged by the Delaware Department of Agriculture include:
• Restrict traffic to essential visits.
• Require all visitors follow your contracting company’s biosecurity rules, especially those requirements for entry into the poultry house; avoid visits to other poultry farms. If you must visit another poultry farm, change clothes and clean your hands and shoes before returning to your own farm.
• Dedicated farm clothing and boots: make sure you have a dedicated pair of farm boots and coveralls that are worn on your farm and which are not worn off the farm.
• Litter: do not allow manure from layer facilities to be spread in the vicinity of your poultry houses.
• Shared equipment: do not share equipment with other growers. If you must, ensure that the equipment is clean and free of manure before bringing it onto your farm.
• Shared services (fuel, shaving, deliveries): only essential servicemen should enter the poultry house.
If they must enter the house, servicemen must wear disposable coveralls boots and gloves.
The University of Maryland Commercial Poultry team suggests growers have dedicated footwear and clothing for their farm and, even better, different shoes for each chicken house.
Well-maintained foot baths are also needed at each house entry door. Garbage dumpsters should be located at the front of the farm to keep garbage trucks from driving near poultry houses.
Specialists said the biosecurity measures are easy to put in place, the challenge for growers is to maintain them at a hight level and avoid complacentcy.
“It’s just being extra mindful and conscientious about all that,” Cartanza said.