Here at the farm, we engage in strict biosecurity. This starts from the time the chickies hatch until they are delivered to you.
We use several products here at the farm to aid in disinfecting and cleaning. The main product we use is Virkon S. Which is a fungicide, bacterialcide and viruscide proven to kill multiple viruses which can affect poultry.
It all starts with the biosecurity for the farm. We don't allow farm visits or visitors to the farm. The chickies have large coops to live in and huge outside runs. We believe having them outside with sunshine and fresh air helps them to stay healthier.
In 2023, we embarked on several projects to increase the ability to sanitize all surfaces in the chicken area. We replaced all the dirt with concrete, and then covered that with a non-porous rubber, to make it easy on the chickies feet. Then we added planters for them to take dirt baths in. We drywalled the inside of the coops to minimize any horizontal surfaces that dust or dander could accumulate on. This makes it super easy to completely clean the coop and run between chicken groups. We spray and fog with Virkon S, and let the coop / run sit for a minimum of 30 days vacant between chickens.
For areas with dirt, we use a high powered blow torch to kill any pathogens that may be living in the soil, and then spray those areas also.
All the transport crates, incubators, hatchers, egg crates, vehicles, vehicle tires, and beds of vehicles are sprayed with Virkon S between deliveries, hatches and whenever needed.
When baby chickies hatch, they are immediately vaccinated against Mareks, unless they are shipping out that day and the customer requests no vaccination. They are then cared for first, before the big chickies. In 2023, we upgraded the baby chickie area with two huge skylights to let in more natural and UV light. We also upgraded to a hospital grade Novatek air scrubber machine and replaced all filters with HEPA grade filters which can trap and filter out particles as small as viruses. People tending to the baby chickies wear a fresh set of clothes and have special brooder only shoes to insure the health of the little chickies.
In addition to upgrading the living areas for the chickies and maintaining strict biosecurity standards, we are also testing our birds on a regular basis against several different chicken diseases. I would venture to say we have one of the most rigorous and frequent testing system in place so if there is a problem, we hope to catch it here on the farm first. Every 3-4 weeks, 2 random birds are selected from the flock and submitted for Mareks testing. In addition, every 6 months we test for Avian Influenza and once a year for Pullorum - Typhoid. We are NPIP certified and have onsite vet visits to check the health and living conditions for the flock.
We follow the USDA recommended biosecurity recommendations including:
- An “all-in, all-out” flock-management policy;
- Protection against exposure to wild birds or water or ground contaminated by wild birds;
- Closed bird areas to nonessential personnel or vehicles;
- Providing employees with clean shoes and disinfection facilities;
- Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting equipment and vehicles (including tires and undercarriage) when entering or leaving the farm;
- Banning visits to other poultry farms, exhibitions, fairs, and sales or swap meets (if visits must occur, direct workers to change footwear and clothing on their return)
We encourage you to also adopt some of these practices with your flock. When you go to the feed store, change your clothes and shoes when you return before interacting with your chickies. If you go to poultry shows, make sure to isolate any birds you show there before reintroducing them into your flock. Keep a separate pair of shoes for your chicken area. That is an easy thing to do to minimize tracking in any diseases from wild bird droppings. Minimize contact with other people's chickens, and use Virkon S to disinfect shoes, tools, shovels, feeders and waterers.