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The Corona Virus (COVID-19) and your Chickens

This is not the time to fall for fear-mongering or unnecessary scare tactics, but I think it's undeniable that the Corona Virus (COVID-19) is of concern to all of us.  But the question is - should we have any concerns regarding the virus and our chickens?

This is not the time to succumb to fear-mongering or unnecessary scare tactics, but I think it's undeniable that the Corona Virus (COVID-19) is of concern to all of us.
There are lots of rumors and information swirling around, and I am getting lots of email and messages asking if there should be any concern regarding the virus and our chickens.
So I wanted to send this out to allay any concerns and also offer some practical advice.

Stock Up A Bit

As chicken keepers (and Maine residents), we naturally tend to stock up and hoard, if you will, supplies and food for both ourselves and our animals each winter because of the harsh weather, but I have to admit that we will be keeping a little extra on hand this spring as well.
My real concern isn't with the virus itself, but with a possible supply chain interruption meaning that we won't be able to restock supplies because stores are either out of stock or unable to get more stock - or the stores have to close because of a government-mandated quarantine or because they have no one to work in the stores.
Picking up a few extra bags of feed, supplements and other products you use regularly with your animals is a good idea. 

Continue to Practice Good Biosecurity

As any farmer or person who raises any type of livestock should know, good biosecurity is essential all the time, but never more than now.
We practice basic biosecurity year round: washing our hands, not allowing visitors to our coop or run, not adding new animals at all if possible, and when necessary, only after an appropriate quarantine period. 
Chickens can spread e.coli, salmonella and other diseases, however, there should be no concern about getting baby chicks this spring or your chickens transmitting the Corona virus to your family or vice versa.
While coronaviruses do exist in the livestock world, THE Corona virus (COVID-19) doesn't seem to be able to spread human-to-animal.
According to Anne Lichtenwalner, UMaine Extension veterinarian, “while there’s no evidence that the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 is affecting livestock, or any species besides humans, it’s important to take common sense precautions that help guard against introducing or spreading diseases on the farm.” 

And the UMaine site goes on to state, "Currently, the COVID-19 virus strain has been spreading person-to-person. No animal cases have been confirmed, though there is a report that a virus similar to the COVID-19 strain was found in a dog belonging to a COVID-19 patient.

The dog is not displaying symptoms (AVMA, accessed March 4, 2020). There is no evidence that poultry are a risk. In some countries, animal industries are affected by consumer fears rather than by actual risks."

And a later study by Poultry World confirms that neither pigs nor chickens are affected by the virus.

Proper biosecurity practices include keeping everyone's immune systems healthy, making sure there's proper ventilation in your coop and home so everyone is getting access to plenty of fresh air, keeping wildlife out of direct contact with your livestock and of course washing your hands.

Wash your Hands

The CDC continues to stress that washing your hands is the best way to curb the spread of the virus.

Plain soap and warm water will do the trick, just remember to wash for 20-30 seconds. Homemade hand sanitizers can be used, but must be made with an alcohol-based product containing at least 60% alcohol.

And remember that all that alcohol will be drying to your skin, so a good moisturizer will also come in handy.

But bottom line, raising chickens doesn't put you at any more or less risk for the Corona virus, nor should you worry about them getting it.

Use common sense, wash your hands often, and by all means stock up on extra feed and food to last at least two weeks.
As for toilet paper however, you're on your own to decide how much you need.

More Information from the UMaine Extension Service

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