Popular Backyard Flock program reduces biosecurity risks of amateur production
The California Animal Health and Food Safety laboratories provide free necropsy (postmortem examination) services to owners of backyard poultry through the Backyard Flock program funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture. We collected and analyzed data on the number of poultry submissions to the program between 2007 and 2012, the lab totals by location and the diseases diagnosed. During those 6 years, submissions increased 383%, with chickens representing 91% of them, and the greatest increases occurred in Santa Clara, Los Angeles and Sonoma counties. The necropsy data showed that the digestive (32.5%) and hemolymphatic (16.9%) systems were the most commonly affected. Marek’s disease accounted for 13.3% of diagnoses (492 cases). With the rapid rise in the number of poultry being raised by amateur producers, biosecurity education is essential.