Demographic Characteristics and Husbandry and Biosecurity Practices of Small Poultry Flocks in Ontario, Canada

Nancy M. Brochu, Michele T. Guerin, Csaba Varga, Brandon N. Lillie, Marina L. Brash, Leonardo Susta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As part of a 2 yr disease surveillance project of small poultry flocks, owners of birds submitted for postmortem examination to the Animal Health Laboratory were asked to complete a questionnaire designed to gather information on the characteristics of the flock and its environment, how the flock was managed, and biosecurity measures used. A total of 153 unique questionnaires were received. Personal consumption of meat or eggs was the most common reason for owning a small flock (69.3%). Almost all owners (97.4%) reported having chickens on their property, while 21.6% had waterfowl, 15.7% had turkeys, and 15.7% had game birds. Nearly 70% (69.9%) of the flocks had some degree of outdoor access. For those with indoor access, the most common bedding material provided was soft wood shavings (70.2%). Kitchen waste or leftovers were offered to 65.3% of flocks, and well water was the most common source of drinking water (80.6%). For flocks with indoor access, dedicated shoes and clothes were used when entering or cleaning the coop by fewer than half of owners, and shoes were rarely disinfected before or after contact with the flock. Most owners (93.8%) reported washing their hands after contact with their birds, although only 48.3% reported washing their hands before contact. Among owners who sourced birds from a hatchery, only 36.8% indicated that the birds had been vaccinated, and 21.1% were unsure if vaccines had been administered. Among owners using medication (60.5%), the use of antibiotics was common (60.9%). Overall, questionnaire responses describe a wide range of husbandry and biosecurity practices, often suboptimal, and point out the need for educational material for Ontario small flock owners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-294
Number of pages8
JournalAvian Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • backyard flock
  • biosecurity practices
  • chicken
  • demographic
  • health
  • management
  • surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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