Rules and regulations with regards to treating backyard poultry flocks

There is a website put out by the Food Animal Residue Appearance and Depletion Species Pages (FARAD) discussing the rules and regulations with regards to the use of medications with backyard poultry.  The discussion is with Federal regulations.

The question becomes are chickens pets or food animals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, considers all chickens to be food animals regardless of how the owner feels about the chicken. As a result, the regulations require that all regulations related to the treatment of food animals will be applicable to backyard poultry.

If you have a particular question regarding the use of a particular medication you can submit a request for more information.


Virulent Newcastle Disease continues in southern California

The new cases of virulent Newcastle Disease (vND) continue to be found in southern California. Since May 18, when the first case was identified, USDA has confirmed 388 cases of vND in California. Of these, 116 were found in San Bernardino County, 229 in Riverside County, 42 in Los Angeles County, and 1 in Ventura County. USDA has also confirmed 1 case in Utah County, Utah.

The last confirmed cases were on February 27, 2019.

So far most of the cases have been with backyard exhibition chickens. Affected flocks also include two backyard non-commercial laying chickens,  three commercial table-egg layer flock, two backyard hobby turkeys, a backyard exhibition pigeons, a backyard exhibition poultry, a live bird market, six feed stores selling adult birds, and a backyard exhibition mixed bird species flock.

Virulent Newcastle Disease is a contagious and fatal viral disease. It affects the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems of birds and poultry. The disease is so virulent that many birds and poultry die without showing any clinical signs.

It is important to note that Newcastle Disease is NOT a food safety concern. No one has ever gotten Newcastle Disease from eating poultry products. In very rare instances, people working directly with sick birds can become infected with mild symptoms. The most common is conjunctivitis. These are easily prevented with personal protective equipment.

Clinical signs in chickens include:

  •  Sudden death and increased death loss in the flock
  • Sneezing, gasping for air, nasal discharge, coughing
  •  Greenish, watery diarrhea
  • Decreased activity, tremors, drooping wings, twisting of head and neck, circling, complete stiffness
  • Swelling around the eyes and neck

It is important for small and backyard flocks to follow good biosecurity practices to protect your birds from Newcastle and other infectious diseases. For more information on biosecurity programs, see the webinar at

Poultry industry leaders of the future – where will they come from?

The American and international poultry industries have been expanding at a rapid pace to meet the ever growing demand for poultry meat and eggs. Despite this rapid growth, there is a decline in American universities with poultry science departments and/or programs. There are only six American universities with poultry science programs – Texas A&M University, University of Georgia, Auburn, North Carolina State University, Mississippi State University and the University of Arkansas. Most of the undergraduate students in these departments have jobs well before they graduate. So why aren’t more students interested in the poultry industry? In addition to the poultry majors, there is a need for many other non-agricultural degrees and vocational certificates. This includes those with management, accounting, engineering, maintenance, marketing, human resources knowledge and much more. As new poultry products are being developed, Food Science majors are also being grabbed up by the poultry industry. With the increase interest in animal welfare, animal behaviorists have found a niche. Whatever you interest of study, you most likely can find a place in the poultry industry


Hemp in animal diets ?

Industrial hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa. It is one of the fastest growing plants and in days past it was one of the first plants that was spun into usable fiber. It can also be refined into several commercial products including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, and food. Although marijuana and industrial hemp are derived from Cannabis sativa, hemp has much lower concentrations of the psychoactive component THC and higher cannabidiol (CBD) which decreases its psychoactive effects. The production of hemp has been illegal for many years because of its resemblance to marijuana. Recently it has become legal. This is leading to the development of new products.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed to push the use of hemp seed oil in dog and cat foods. It is expected that hemp oil will be an approved pet food ingredient by the end of 2019, if not earlier. Many pet owners believe that hemp oil will help with anxiety and depressions. Some pet products containing hemp are already on the market, although they have not been approved at this time.

While there is no evidence that hemp oils have psychoactive or medicinal properties as many believe, there are some nutritional benefits. Hemp oil is a well-balanced blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In addition, the ground seed is gluten free and can serve as a vegetarian protein source. It is believed that the approval of hemp oil for use with hemp oil for dogs and cats will open the door to other hemp ingredients and additional species.

It is believed that poultry will be the first species to be allowed hemp feeds, followed by sheep. These feed ingredients could include hemp flour and hemp seed cake as well as hemp-derived silage and pulp.

With hemp production only just becoming legal, it is likely that demand will outstrip supply. As a result, hemp could price itself out of the inclusion in feed.

Citation: ‘First hemp-based animal feed approvals expected in 2019.” by Emma Penrod of Watt Publishing.

When is meat not meat?

January 1, 2019 a new Missouri law took affect that state that meat must be derived from harvested livestock or poultry in order to be labeled as meat. Right away the law was challenged. Turtle Island Foods under the Tofurky Company and the non-profit Good Food Institute immediately filed a lawsuit. Good Food Institute advocates for plant- and cell-based alternatives to conventional meat products. They say the law violates their constitutional rights of free speech – see . The attorneys involved have reached an settlement although the details have not been finalized and won’t be made public till next month. The results will have an effect on other states as well. Similar legislation has been introduced in Nebraska, Mississippi, Washington, Arizona and Arkansas. A bill in Virginia was voted down.

Twenty-four confirmed cases of Newcastle disease in the week of January 25-31, 2019

There seems to be no end to the virulent Newcastle Disease outbreak in California. There were 26 new confirmed cases in one week, most in Riverside County, California. They include backyard exhibition chickens, backyard hobby turkeys, and a retail feed store. Previous positive locations include backyard, non-commercial layer chickens, commercial table egg layers, backyard exhibition birds (which is presumably more than just chickens), commercial table egg pullets, a backyard mixed flock of exhibition birds, and a live bird market. There is no indication of which feed stores had positive chicks or where those chicks came from since no hatcheries appear to have tested positive.

For more information on virulent Newcastle disease, see the article at

For ways to protect yourself, see the article on biosecurity at

Launch of the new eXtension website for small and backyard poultry producers. is shifting away from its current site to a wordpress site. This is the launch of our new format. Let me know what you think and what other things you would like to hear about.

We have started a new webinar format for 2019. Every other week there will be a 20 minute, topic specific discussed. Check out the list We have five webinars booked so far:

There are also links to past webinars. Check it out.