USDA Expands Defend the Flock Campaign with New Resources for All Poultry Growers

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has expanded its Defend the Flock program to educate poultry farmers about biosecurity best practices. Poultry programs of all sizes can implement these easy-to-understand tools to keep flocks safe from infectious diseases.

Maryland Department of Agriculture recently confirmed a case of Avian Flu in Cecil County, warning poultry farmers to take steps to monitor and protect flocks from infection.

Biosecurity encompasses structural and operating practices to block the spread of disease, which has proven the most effective way to protect poultry, property, and people. These steps include sanitation safeguards such as:

  • Keep visitors to an absolute minimum. 
  • Wash your hands often. 
  • Use disposable boot covers (preferred) and disinfectant footbaths.
  • Change clothing before entering or exiting the property.  
  • Clean and disinfect tools or equipment before moving them to a new poultry facility.

Poultry Farmers are encouraged to recognize signs of disease and report suspicious poultry deaths to the MDA Animal Health Program at 410-841-5810 and the USDA at 866-536-7593.

 Signs of illness include: 

  • Respiratory distress, gasping, snicking;
  • Digestive symptoms, including extreme diarrhea;
  • Swollen eyelids, sinuses, combs, or wattles;
  • Purple or bluish discoloration of wattles and combs;​
  • Generally depressed birds or sudden death

Poultry farmers in Maryland must register their birds with the MDA. The information collected provides animal health officials with necessary contact information in case of an animal health concern and helps identify at-risk animals and premises. All information collected remains confidential.

Visit Defend the Flock for more information and tools, including checklists, and videos, or go to MDA resources for poultry farmers here.