Small Flock Poultry: Concerned about your flock's health?

Subscribe to our free E-Newsletter, "Agri-News" (formerly RTW This Week)Agri-News
This Week
  Return to Small Flock Poultry Home Page

Concerned about your flock’s health?

These resources include information on diseases their prevention and veterinary care.

Some poultry diseases can have a devastating impact, and they must be reported to the province for monitoring and disease control. If you suspect a reportable disease like ILT, avian influenza, or Newcastle disease, contact the Office of Alberta's Chief Provincial Veterinarian at 780-427-3448 (call toll-free in Alberta by dialing 310-0000).

Non-Quota/Non-Commercial Poultry Disease Investigations
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has a small-flock disease investigation program to help non-quota/non-commercial (NQ/NC) poultry owners and their veterinarians. The main goal of this program is the early detection of highly contagious provincially and federally reportable poultry diseases such as avian influenza, Newcastle disease, infectious laryngotracheitis, and Salmonella. The program also helps NQ/NC poultry owners manage these diseases.

Sick chickens? (pdf 1,585 KB)
You can make a big difference by watching for signs of disease in your birds and taking action as quickly as possible. Get advice from knowledgeable, helpful and trustworthy sources.

Looking for veterinary care for your small flock?
- Visit the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) web page, follow the blue tab labelled "search for veterinary care" and define a search criteria for Poultry-Small flock.
- A partial list of veterinarians practicing small flock medicine is also available at Alberta Farm Animal Care webpage.

Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT)
ILT is a respiratory disease of chickens, pheasants, and peafowl. It is highly contagious and is spread either by infected birds or other birds through mechanical means. Clinical signs of the disease include general unthriftiness, decreased egg production, watery eyes with conjunctivitis, swelling of the sinuses, persistent nasal discharge, coughing and sneezing.
The best prevention is to only purchase birds from a source known to be free of ILT or to maintain a closed flock (no additions from other flocks). Remember, birds can appear clinically normal, yet be infected with ILT and shed this virus to healthy resident birds if they have been stressed.

  • Changes to Alberta ILT Response Plan
    As of June 2018, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) will be changing the way it responds to cases of ILT detected in small flocks.
    - ILT is, and continues to be, a provincially reportable disease in Alberta.
    - AF will continue to provide diagnostic testing at no charge for suspect ILT cases through the Non-Quota Non-Commercial program.
    - An AF veterinarian will provide a telephone consultation with producers in cases where the disease is detected in their submission. Disease transmission, options to manage the disease, and biosecurity are among the topics that will be covered.
    - Flock owners will be encouraged to work with a private veterinarian at their own expense for continuing disease management.
    - Notifications will also continue through the Premises Identification (PID) system in order to alert any commercial or small flock owners within the vicinity of a detected case. These will serve as reminders of the importance of biosecurity in preventing the spread of this disease. Notifications will also be made to poultry industry stakeholders (boards, farm service providers).
    - Farms affected by ILT will no longer be quarantined and an AF veterinarian will not visit the farm. A review of previous response efforts showed that this component was having negligible effect on the suspected prevalence of the disease.
    The change in response to ILT will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the program. Education and awareness around disease prevention are proving more effective than placing quarantines after infection has occurred.

Avian Influenza. (pdf 435 KB)
Avian influenza (AI), sometimes called “avian flu” or “bird flu,” is a contagious viral disease that affects the respiratory, digestive and/or nervous systems of many bird species, including domestic poultry and wild birds.

Newcastle disease
Exotic Newcastle disease is a highly contagious and fatal viral disease affecting the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems of birds and poultry. Signs of disease include: sneezing, gasping, depression, muscular tremors, paralysis, drop in egg production, and greenish watery diarrhea. The disease is so lethal that many birds may die without showing any clinical signs.
Exotic Newcastle Disease is a provincially and federally reportable disease. While it has never been reported in domestic poultry in Canada, a small number of cases of Newcastle disease have been detected in Canada’s wild bird population. To report unusual mortality or disease in your flock contact your private veterinarian or the Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian 780-427-3448 (dial 310-0000 for toll-free in Alberta).
Since May 18, 2018 the United States Department of Agriculture has confirmed several cases of virulent Newcastle Disease (Exotic Newcastle Disease) in backyard exhibition chickens in California.
    Biosecurity is the best way to protect your flock against diseases like ILT, Avian Influenza, and Newcastle Disease. Remember to:
    - restrict visitor access to your bird areas and avoid entering other people’s bird areas
    - wash hands and scrub boots before and after entering bird areas
    - clean and disinfect tools and equipment that come in contact with your birds or their droppings.
    - quarantine any birds returning from shows for 30 days before reintroducing them to your flock.

    Did you know? When wild waterfowl migrate, it increases your poultry’s risk of being exposed to avian influenza. You can take steps to reduce the risk to your flock from avian influenza by preventing contact with wild birds.
    Listen to this interview with Dr. Colleen Christianson, veterinary pathologist, on Call of the Land to learn more about avian influenza.

    Additional resources for small flock owners

    Share via
    For more information about the content of this document, contact Ana Ulmer-Franco.
    This information published to the web on June 5, 2018.
    Last Reviewed/Revised on August 1, 2018.