A feed store is a great place to pick up food, bedding, and equipment for tending your flock. On the other hand, it may also be a place to bring home disease to your flock. Owners of sick birds may unknowingly carry infectious germs from home with them while they shop. If the store staff isn’t careful, they can carry poultry diseases from bird to bird. Be aware of the biosecurity practices at your feed store and keep your poultry safe.
Look carefully around the store and evaluate its commitment to biosecurity:
- Does your store have a sink for hand-washing or provide hand sanitizer? Clean hands can prevent the spread of any disease, including animal ones.
- Does the store staff use a footbath or disinfect their shoes before and after entering the bird area?
- Does the store appear clean without insects or signs of rodents?
- If you buy your feed from the bulk bins, are the scoops and utensils clean? If not, consider buying your feed in sealed bags, not loose. Dirty utensils and dirty hands can contaminate feed in bulk bins and bagged feed is a safer choice.
If you are shopping for new additions to your flock, bring healthy poultry home. Ask the feed store staff a few questions about their chicks before you buy:
- Have these chicks been vaccinated? Do you know what vaccines were administered? Common diseases, such as Marek’s Disease, are easily preventable with a vaccine. Ask your veterinarian what poultry diseases are common in your area and if a vaccine is available before you shop.
- Do you source the chicks/ducklings/poults/ goslings from a hatchery that is certified by the National Poultry Improvement Plan (otherwise known as NPIP)? Certified hatcheries take extra steps to provide healthy poultry and are a safe buy.
- Do you know the sex of the chicks? If your community has restrictions on roosters, this is important to know.
- Do you allow the general public to handle the birds? If the poultry is in an area easily accessible to the public, they are more susceptible to disease exposure and becoming sick.
- Have any of your birds been sick recently? Have any died? If “yes,” there may be a serious illness affecting their poultry in the store. Think twice before buying a bird here.
Shop wisely for your poultry supplies at a biosecure store and keep your birds safe and healthy.