Section 3. Biosecurity

Site: Extension Foundation Online Campus
Course: Avian Influenza Biosecurity for Youth and 4-H Members
Book: Section 3. Biosecurity
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Tuesday, April 23, 2024, 8:37 AM


  1. Prevention
  2. Biosecurity
  3. Isolation
  4. Traffic Control
  5. Sanitation
  6. Decontamination

Learning Objectives

At the end of section three, the instructors of this course want you to understand the how to prepare and use biosecurity measures in stopping the spread of disease in your flocks.


Prevention is the key to protecting your birds from AI and other diseases. Birds lost to disease can lead to financial and emotional losses. Use biosecurity precautions to reduce the risk of your birds contracting and spreading disease among your flocks. This short U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) video is an introduction to the basics of biosecurity. If you keep birds in you backyard you need to practice biosecurity too.

What is Biosecurity?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines biosecurity as "the cumulative measures that can or should be taken to keep disease from a farm and to prevent the transmission of diseases within an infected farm to neighboring farms."5

Disease Spread

Biosecurity Measures

Good biosecurity is essential for keeping disease away from your birds. To be effective, your plan should include these three elements:8
  1. Isolation
  2. Traffic Control
  3. Decontamination/Sanitation

Visit the USDA's Biosecurity For Birds to download free brochures, handbooks, videos, calenders and posters for poultry and bird owners.



Isolation, or quarantine, prevents contact of healthy animals with animals that could be infected.

Avian Influenza Cartoon by Steve Sack

Isolation Practices

Your actions and farm setup should keep your birds separate from potentially infected or contaminated birds and materials. Practice these tips below to reduce the likelihood of introducing disease to your flocks.8,10,11

  • Poultry housing should be away from public roads.
  • Avoid setting up near ponds or stagnant water sources as they attract wild birds. Housing area should also drain well.
  • Houses or pens should have a solid roof and sides to prevent contact with infected wild birds or their droppings.
  • If your birds are outside, try to keep them in a screened area. Consider placing a tarp or mesh netting over the fence to protect your poultry from wild birds and the elements.
  • Food and water should be provided only in the covered area.
  • Limit the amount of free standing food that may attract wild animals and keep stored food covered.
  • A fence with locks should be set up around the housing as another barrier.
  • Ensure birds have adequate space, light, and ventilation.

Chicken Coop
Photo Credit: Jessica Renshaw

  • Different species and ages should be kept separate if possible. Some diseases may be worse in one group.
  • Avoid introducing new birds to your old flock. Depending on your flock size, “All In - All Out” is a good approach to prevent disease. This means that one flock is brought in and no more birds are added until that flock is taken out.
  • When purchasing new birds, ensure they are from a reputable seller, who participates in the USDA's National Poultry Improvement Plan. This ensures birds are free of avian influenza and other devastating diseases.
  • If new birds are introduced, they should be isolated in quarantine for 30 days before being added to the rest of the flock.
  • Sick birds should be isolated in quarantine for 30 days as virus can be spread for up to four weeks after infection.
  • Avoid live bird markets.

ARS: Keith Weller

  • Practice rodent and insect control (such as mouse traps, baits, and insecticides) as these pests can carry viruses and spread disease.
  • Line gravel around the outside of the poultry house and keep the grass short to discourage rodents from nesting.

CDC Photo Library: James Gathany

Traffic Control

Movement of people, vehicles, and equipment between bird owners should be limited as viruses can be carried on clothing, tires, and tools. Follow these guidelines to prevent the spread of disease.8,10,11

Daily Routine:
  • Wash your hands before and after handling birds.
  • Set aside rubber boots and clothing that are only worn around your birds.
  • Wear clean clothes when you enter the poultry area. Change and launder clothes after exiting the area.
  • Use disinfectant footbaths at the entrance to pens of different ages or types of birds within the flock.

  • Try to keep people away from your birds.
  • Do not allow people with other birds to come in contact with yours.
  • Provide clean clothes and footwear for visitors to wear.
  • Post biosecurity signs to prevent unauthorized visitors from entering your poultry premises.
  • Pave roads or line with gravel to prevent mud accumulation on tires which may carry disease.
  • Clean vehicle tires before and after a visit every time a vehicle goes on site.


  • Avoid sharing animals or equipment with other backyard flock owners.
  • Decrease potential disease exposure by conducting business by telephone when possible.
  • Clean and disinfect your shoes and clothing after you visit bird exhibits, auctions, or other locations and before you go near your birds.

USDA APHIS - Making a Footbath

Biosecurity Sign
Photo Credit: Dr. Jennifer Timmons

By Phone
FEMA: John Ficara

Keep It Clean

Sanitation and decontamination, when properly done, can effectively kill pathogens such as avian influenza virus. It only takes a small amount of AI-contaminated manure to infect one million birds. These procedures are critical to preventing and containing the disease!12,13

Sanitation is a means of promoting health by preventing contact with wastes.

Decontamination is a two-part process involving cleaning and disinfecting in order to reduce or remove pathogens.

ARS: Stephen Ausmus

Sanitation I: Waste Management

Maintain a healthy flock by keeping your poultry houses clean. To decrease smells and disease keep floors and litter dry, provide proper drainage and ventilation, and remove and dispose of accumulated manure. Check with your local Department of Environment or Natural Resources Conservation Service for approved waste disposal options.

Handling Materials:

  • Do not use your bare hands when handling waste materials; always wear gloves.
  • Prevent direct contact by using tools such as shovels, pitchforks, and wheelbarrows.
  • Always wash your hands after handling waste materials; never rub your eyes, eat, or drink if you have dirty gloves on or have not washed your hands with soap and water.

CDC: Cade Martin
Manure Disposal:

  • Remove and dispose manure before adding new flocks. This will help deter pests.
  • Do not use fresh manure as a fertilizer for gardens as there may be diseases present. It may also kill your plants.14
  • Composting is the best way to dispose of manure. Composted manure may be used as fertilizer on gardens. Do not add dead animals to your compost. For more information on composting visit eXtension's Soil and Composting.

Howdiniguru - How to Make Compost

Sanitation II: Carcass Disposal

Carcass Disposal:
From time to time you will have to dispose of animals that have died from old age, injury, stress or disease. Proper disposal will prevent the attraction of pests such as rodents and insects as well as the spread of disease.

Dead rodents or wild birds will need to be removed from the area and disposed of properly away from your flocks. If you are able to bury the animal make sure you use gloves and dig a hole, at least a foot deep, to prevent animals from digging it up. If laws ban burying, you may place the animal in plastic bag and seal it while wearing gloves. The body may be placed in the trash. Wash your hands when finished. If you see multiple dead wild birds in a short period of time contact the USDA Wildlife Services at 1-877-463-6497.16

Dead poultry may be disposed of by burying, composting, rendering, or incineration in commercial operations. However, in a backyard setting where deaths are rare, burial is the best option. Remember to check with your county first for approved disposal methods. If burial is not an option then you may wrap and seal the bird in a plastic bag and place it in the trash.3,9
For more information on the safe disposal of dead poultry, visit the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #12


is a two-part process that reduces or removes pathogens, or disease causing germs.8

1. Cleaning – physically removes organic materials such as dirt, manure, feed, and litter. This first step is important because dirt can block the disinfectant from the germs.

2. Disinfecting – destroys the virus by direct exposure to disinfectants.


Avian Influenza Disinfectants:
You can purchase these disinfectants at most hardware, feed store, or grocery stores. Do not use disinfectants on living things such as people, animals, and plants. Always read and follow label instructions.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectants such as One Stroke Environ® and Tek-trol®.
  • Bleach* - mix ¾ cup of bleach per gallon of water or 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
  • Quaternary Ammonium Compoundssuch as Lysol No Rinse Sanitizer®
* DO NOT mix bleach and ammonia together! They form a toxic gas.

When to Clean and Disinfect Equipment

  • Clean cages, feeders, and drinkers every day.13
  • Clean housing and equipment before starting a new flock.
  • Clean your tires, truck, and trailer before and after traveling to locations with other birds such as fairs.
  • Clean equipment if shared with other flock owners.
  • Clean equipment if exposed to new birds.
  • Clean equipment if exposed to sick birds.

Muddy Tire
Photo Credit: Jenny Madsen

Decontamination Steps

  1. Wear gloves to protect yourself from chemicals and germs that can make you sick.
  2. Wash with hot water and detergent (laundry or dish soap).
  3. Scrub with brushes.
  4. Remove all dirt from surfaces as it an prevent the disinfectant from reaching the germs.
  5. Rinse with water after a few minutes with hose or power washer.
  6. Apply disinfectant.
  7. Rinse with water after a few minutes with hose or pressure washer. Water should move from top to bottom.

Wooden crates and reusable cardboard cartons are harder to clean and disinfect. If you do use wooden equipment such as crates and cages, line the bottom with heavy plastic so cleaning is more effective.

Poultry Housing:
(Clean everyday or as needed)
  1. Wear gloves to protect yourself from chemicals and germs that can make you sick.
  2. Remove all debris such as bedding, feed, and manure.
  3. Sweep out loose materials such as dirt and feathers.
  4. Scrub and spray housing with detergent to remove remaining dirt.
  5. Rinse detergent after a few minutes with hose or power washer.
  6. Using a spray bottle or pressure sprayer, apply the disinfectant to the poultry house.
  7. Wait a few minutes and rinse with a hose or power washer. Water should move from top to bottom.
  8. Allow housing to dry completely before adding new litter, feed, and water.
Keep equipment and houses organized so they are easier to clean.


Sanitizing Poultry Drinking Water:
If you use ponds, streams, or wells as your source of drinking water for your poultry, you should consider adding a sanitizer such as chlorine to the water. This will reduce the level of harmful germs in the water and prevent the buildup of slime in your waterers.
  • Bleach may be used to sanitize water by adding 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of bleach to 1 gallon of water.
  • Measure bleach carefully because too much can be harmful to you and your birds.
  • Handle bleach carefully because it can stain your clothes and burn your skin.
  • If giving a vaccine through the drinking water, stop using bleach to sanitize drinking water 2 days prior to vaccination as bleach will kill the vaccine and make it not work.
  • Clean waterers and replenish with fresh water daily.

USDA - Keeping Your Birds Healthy

Section 3. Quiz