Already have a chicken flock?

You want to provide the best care for your chickens. These resources include tools and tips for best husbandry practices.

  • Keeping your flock, your food, and your family healthy (PDF, 848 KB)
    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.
  • Adding new chicks to your flock  (PDF, 1,491 KB)
    Adding new chicks to your flock is an exciting activity. 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: get new chicks from a reputable source, and, quarantine new birds for 30 days to watch for signs of disease.
  • Safe handling of baby poultry  (PDF, 175 KB)
    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.
  • As a small-flock poultry owner you will, at some point, have to end your birds' lives because of disease, welfare, or other issues. It is your responsibility to ensure your birds are correctly euthanized and their carcasses disposed of appropriately
    • Euthanasia and disposal (PDF, 252 KB)
      Euthanasia is the ending of the life of an individual 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. .
    • The manual Practical Guidelines for On-Farm Euthanasia of Poultry (PDF, 1.58 Mb) produced by the Poultry Industry Council offers science and research based guidelines and description of different on-farm poultry euthanasia methods.
  • Cleaning and disinfection of poultry premises (PDF, 146 KB)
    Effective cleaning and disinfection in between poultry flocks will reduce the likelihood of spreading diseases to your new flock. Follow this four-step process (dry cleaning, washing, disinfecting and drying) before placing new birds.
  • Chickens and Bears (PDF, 262 KB)
    As the number of small flocks in Alberta increase, the number of negative encounters with bears has also increased. By following a series of proactive measures you can be BearSmart and protect your animals, property and family.
    Raising poultry in bear country? have you considered installing an electric fence to protect your yard?
  • What is Biosecurity? Everything we do to prevent or reduce the introduction and spread of animal diseases. Remember: little things count to help keep small flocks healthy.
  • Bacteria can be found in many places in a chicken coop: in the dirt, litter, nest boxes, or manure. Egg shells may seem solid, but they have microscopic openings called "pores" to allow gases and moisture to move through. Bacteria can also enter the egg through these pores and create a food safety hazard.
    Proper handling of eggs is crucial to keep these pores clean. Egg shells can become dirty from fecal matter (droppings), broken eggs, shavings, and feathers. Bacteria on the eggshell can contaminate hands, cooking surfaces and food. The use of proper egg handling and washing techniques can reduce the risk of unwanted bacteria, and it promotes food safety.
  • Agricultural producers are renowned for being good stewards of the land. Some generally accepted agricultural practices that demonstrate good environmental stewardship by small flock poultry operations include:
    • Developing an environmental farm plan to assess the environmental risks associated with the poultry operation.
    • Applying manure, litter or composted manure or litter on ground more than 150 m from buildings where people live, work or frequent.
    • Applying manure, litter or composted manure or litter on ground more than 30 m from surface water (e.g., creeks) and ground water sources (e.g., wells).
    • Storing of manure should be done in a manner which minimizes the movement of manure nutrients from the storage. This would include managing both surface water runoff and downward movement of nutrients into the soil.
    • Storing mortalities in sealed bins that cannot be accessed by scavengers until they are disposed of appropriately.
    • Establishing shelterbelts to manage odour, dust and other air emissions.
  • Small flock: hobby or business?
    The livestock and farm business section works with farm businesses, advisors, livestock clients and producer / processor organizations to:
    1. Improve profitability and competitiveness.
    2. Develop tools and methods to mitigate and manage risks.
    3. Improve marketing (niche, local, or commodity level) to expand market channels and add value to products.
    4. Facilitate supply chain collaboration and provide access to key resources necessary to develop and grow markets.
    5. Connect clients to relevant funding and loan programs.
    6. Discover, learn and share traditional and cutting edge production techniques to increase sustainability.
    7. Assist clients with startup, growth and succession planning phases of the business life cycle.

When disease enters your flock

Cleaning and disinfecting backyard poultry flock premises