Written by: Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky

Children feeding a small flock of chickens
Children feeding a small flock of chickens. Photo by Goran Bogicevic on

The main way to prevent your flock from getting bird flu (avian influenza) or any disease is biosecurity (A fancy term for doing everything possible to keep disease away from your own flock and to keep from spreading disease to your neighbor’s chickens). In terms of a poultry flock this means keeping your birds away from other birds. That includes other people’s flocks as well as wild birds.

Wild birds or any new birds you bring into the flock can carry diseases that could spread quickly to your existing flock. Having a bird feeder out to feed the local wild birds,  for example, is not a good idea. Wild birds are important sources of avian influenza.

Here are some things you can do to protect your flock

  • If you have visitors, do not let them near your birds.
  • Avoid visiting poultry farms or homes with backyard poultry.
  • If you have been near other birds it is important to wash your shoes and clothing (including hats) and have a shower before going near your birds.
  • Limit the sharing of equipment, tools, and poultry supplies with neighbors or other bird owners. If you do share, be sure to wash and disinfect your items before using them with your flock.

If you have taken your birds to a fair or poultry show, keep them separate from the rest of the flock for at least two weeks after the event. The same thing should be done if you’ve bought or were given new birds. While it doesn’t guarantee that your birds won’t get sick, it will help to reduce the possibility.


What is avian influenza (bird flu)?

How do you know if your birds have the flu?

What should you do if your birds get the flu?

Webinar: Biosecurity in backyard flocks