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Hobby flock owners advised to keep their domestic birds safe from mysterious illness

Man saved from blaze by son's cackling chickens
Posted at 1:12 AM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 01:12:04-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Due to the recent reports of sick and dying wild songbirds throughout the state, veterinarians with the Indiana Board of Animal Health (BOAH) are encouraging hobby flock owners to take steps in order to protect their domestic poultry.

Late last week, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources advised Hoosiers to remove all bird feeders statewide.

Since then, owners of chickens, ducks, turkeys and other poultry have been asking about the risk this mysterious illness now poses to their flocks.

“Currently, we do not know what is causing songbirds to become ill or to die,” Bret D. Marsh, DVM, Indiana State Veterinarian said. “We are coordinating with Indiana DNR to investigate reports of sick birds. However, laboratory testing has not yet determined if this is a disease or some other agent.”

Without specific information on the cause, it's recommended that owners protect their domestic species from any potential exposure to wild birds.

“We always recommend good biosecurity for small flocks,” Marsh said. “When something unknown and unforeseen like this happens is when keeping flocks secure really pays off.”

A few ways to deter contact with wild bird include:

  • Keeping your domestic poultry in a fenced space and contain them to a coop or barn at night.
  • Do not feed chickens outdoors where wild birds may feed.
  • Clean and sanitize feed pans and waterers.

Marsh also noted that small flock owners should remain vigilant in watching their poultry for signs of illness or disease.

Any unusual or unexplained death loss or illness should be reported to the US Department of Agriculture Healthy Birds Hotline at 866-536-7593. Illness or death in wild bird species should be reported to Indiana DNR at:

RELATED | DNR reports of mysterious songbird deaths now in 40 counties; Dept. of Natural Resources is recommending the removal of bird feeders; The Department of Natural Resources investigating mysterious songbird deaths