Table of contents

Small flocks

Small poultry flocks provide many benefits to those who keep them. There are some things to know and do to help you raise your chickens. Learn about Poultry.

Raising chickens in Alberta: a guide for small flock owners

This comprehensive guide is for small flock, backyard and urban chicken owners. Poultry health topics covered include: regulations, basic chicken needs, chicken house design and sanitation, egg management, care of chicks, care of chickens during the winter, flock health and disease, and biosecurity.

Keeping your flock, your food, and your family healthy

Did you know that even healthy birds, their eggs, and meat can all be sources of bacteria that can make you sick? With some basic hygiene and handling practices you and your family can care for your birds safely.

Keep Alberta Small Flocks Healthy: Safely add to your small flock

Whether you are adding to a recreational flock or a breeding line or getting layers or broilers, new additions to the flock can bring joy, but also disease. Protect your existing flock with simple steps outlined in this fact sheet.

Protect yourself and your family: Tips for the safe handling of chicks and live poultry

Contact with live poultry can be a source of germs and infections, even if a bird appears healthy and clean. There are things you can do to help keep yourself, your family and birds safe.

Backyard Chicken Webinar Series

Alberta Farm Animal Care offers introductory webinars and other resources for urban chicken owners.

Biosecurity

Measures taken to prevent or reduce the introduction or spread of animal diseases are an important part of each farm’s livestock biosecurity plan.

See also: Livestock and biosecurity resources – Poultry.

Other resources

Disease management

Some poultry diseases can have a devastating impact and must be reported to the province for monitoring and disease control. Work with a veterinarian to report reportable and notifiable livestock diseases.

Producers or veterinarians can also submit bird carcasses for testing at a provincial laboratory. Find out about the small-flock disease investigation program.

Looking for veterinary care for your flock? The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) hosts a current directory of registered veterinarians.

A partial list of veterinarians practicing small flock medicine is available at Alberta Farm Animal Care.

Serious poultry diseases

Avian influenza

Avian influenza (AI), also 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. AI is a provincially and federally reportable disease.

Infectious laryngotracheitis

ILT is a provincially reportable 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.

Newcastle disease

Newcastle disease is a highly contagious and fatal viral disease affecting the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems of birds and poultry. The disease is so lethal that many birds may die without showing any clinical signs. 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.

Other resources

Protection from predation

As the number of small flocks in Alberta increase, the number of negative encounters with bears and other predatory animals has also increased. By taking proactive steps you can protect your animals, property and family. Learn more about protection from predation.

Bears and agricultural producers

Raising poultry in bear country? have you considered installing an electric fence to protect your yard? This provincial program offers proactive measures to reduce negative encounters and protect your animals, property and family.

Protecting Livestock From Predation With Electric Fences

Electric fences are an important tool for protecting livestock in Alberta. Such fences have been used in the province to protect livestock from predators for more than 2 decades.

Prevention of Predator Damage in Poultry Flocks

This publication is designed to help poultry producers reduce or prevent predation by improving or extending care and management of their flocks.

Euthanasia and disposal

Small-flock poultry owners may have to end birds' lives because of disease, welfare, or other issues. It is the owner’s responsibility to correctly euthanize their birds, and dispose of or store them until they can be permanently disposed. Learn more about Livestock mortality management.

Euthanasia and carcass disposal: Information for small-flock poultry producers

Euthanasia is the ending of the life of an animal in a way that minimizes or eliminates pain, anxiety and distress. Euthanasia means a good death for the animal. Proper euthanasia, done at the right time, reduces suffering due to disease, pain from injury and distress from ill thrift.

Practical Guidelines for On-Farm Euthanasia of Poultry

Produced by the Poultry Industry Council, this manual offers science and research-based guidelines and description of different on-farm poultry euthanasia methods.

Poultry Mortality Composting

Poultry mortalities can be composted, incinerated, buried, rendered or naturally disposed. Today, animal agriculture is challenged to discover innovative ways to dispose of livestock and poultry mortalities. Composting of livestock mortalities is one option.

Sustainability

Alberta Environmental Farm Plan

Agricultural producers have developed a learning tool to demonstrate their good environmental stewardship. The AEF website helps producers start or renew their small-flock poultry environmental operation plan. This includes assessing the environmental risks associated with the poultry operation.

Environmental Footprint of Egg

Egg Farmers of Alberta along with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry completed a study to better understand and quantify the environmental impact of egg production in Alberta, covering all lifecycle stages of production. Learn more about sustainable egg farming.

Was this page helpful?

All fields are required unless otherwise indicated.

Your submissions are monitored by our web team and are used to help improve the experience on Alberta.ca. If you require a response, please go to our Contact page.

You will not receive a reply. Submissions that include telephone numbers, addresses, or emails will be removed.