Califonia Bountiful

Expert advice on keeping flock and family healthy

May/June 2013 California Bountiful magazine

Davis is one of a growing number of communities in California where residents can raise chickens in backyards. While each city has its own ordinances, Dr. Richard Breitmeyer, former California state veterinarian and now director of the Davis-based California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, says protecting the health of one's flock and family are key considerations.

"The two big issues are biosecurity to prevent transmission of diseases among birds, and secondly, taking basic precautions so you don't expose children to potential pathogens from the birds," he said. "To protect children, it is important to be vigilant and take precautions such as requiring hand-washing with soap and water after handling the birds and not allowing snacking or eating in the area."

The California Department of Food and Agriculture instructs bird owners to develop and implement a biosecurity plan to protect against diseases such as avian influenza and Exotic Newcastle Disease, which can strike poultry and pet birds quickly. Breitmeyer said bird owners should become familiar with signs of disease in birds and report sick birds to their veterinarian or the Sick Bird Hotline: 866-922-2473.

These websites provide additional information on pet health and backyard chickens:

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