Livestock

Limit disease risk

By Country News

With a rise in the number of people keeping chickens in their backyard, Australian Eggs managing director Rowan McMonnies says it is important people understand the biosecurity risks.

The CSIRO has recently warned of the potential animal and human health risks of keeping backyard poultry, calling for improved biosecurity education.

Mr McMonnies echoed the calls and said people needed to realise there were important biosecurity risks to protect against.

‘‘Strains of avian influenza can occur naturally in populations of wild birds and if a wild duck comes into contact with a domestic hen the virus can be transferred,’’ he said.

‘‘Diseases spread quickly and widely and potential transfer from backyard to commercial flocks can put food security for the broader community at risk.

‘‘It’s understandable that people think backyard farming is clean and natural but these set-ups can pose significant problems because of how accessible they are to wild animals.’’

Australian Eggs said there were 10 things people could do to reduce their risk including always washing hands after handling chickens or eggs, keeping chickens away from ponds and rivers, and ensuring wild birds could not access the chickens’ feed or water.

■For the full list of tips visit: australianeggs.org.au