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Backyard hen owners warned of infectious laryngotracheitis in Prince Edward County

March 3, 2021

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Farming and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has confirmed that a small poultry flock in Prince Edward County has tested positive for Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT).

Backyard hen/small flock owners are reminded that the Backyard Hen By-Law requires owners to register all hens with the Chicken Farmers of Ontario Small Flock Policy through their Family Food Program. Registering will ensure that small flock growers receive disease notices and guidance to protect their flock. The Family Food Program website also offers bird health and disease management guidance.

Infectious Laryngotracheitis is a serious contagious poultry disease caused by a respiratory virus primarily in laying hens and chickens. This disease is not a risk to human health and is not a food safety concern. ILT spreads easily, and all flock owners must reinforce their biosecurity protocols to prevent further spread. More information about ILT is available on the OMAFRA website.

ILT spreads easily from wild birds to hens, particularly through droppings and contact with wild birds in treed areas. Owners should make sure that hens and their food and water are kept away from wild animals, particularly wild birds. Promptly clean up spilled feed and litter and keep feed in sealed, waterproof containers to avoid attracting vermin and wild birds.

Other guidelines to reduce the spread of ILT include:

  • Avoid contact with other birds and poultry.
  • Wear gloves and practice hand-washing when in contact with your flock.
  • Restrict the number of people who have access to your flock.
  • Avoid exchanging equipment with other hen owners unless it is properly washed and sanitized.
  • Further biosecurity information for small flock growers is available through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Chicken Farmers of Ontario.

Owners of backyard hens are urged to monitor their flocks for signs and symptoms of ILT, including increased mortality, noisy breathing, head shaking, off feed, decreased egg production, inactivity, ruffled feathers and/or conjunctivitis. If you suspect any health concerns in your small flock, contact your veterinarian and the Chicken Farms of Ontario Disease Hotline at 1-877-SOS-BYRD (1-877-767-2973).

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