Managing sick poultry and emergency situations

Sick birds

Prevention and management are the most important factors in disease control.

If you identify sick birds in your flock, remove them from the main flock immediately and obtain a diagnosis from a qualified person as soon as possible.

Many diseases cause similar signs and it can be difficult to make an accurate diagnosis. When a disease is identified, the right treatment can be given. In some situations, the best course of action may be to humanely destroy sick birds.

If a large number of birds have died or are looking sick, you must call Biosecurity Queensland immediately on 13 25 23.

Good management

You need to constantly monitor your flock for signs of disease. All poultry producers have a duty of care under legislation to ensure the welfare of their flocks.

Good management should include a health program with plans for adequate nutrition and timely execution of husbandry procedures, such as vaccinations.

You must use agricultural and veterinary chemicals, including disinfection and sanitation products, according to label instructions. For example, to produce safe eggs, producers must observe withholding periods to avoid chemical residues in eggs.

Emergency animal diseases

Emergency animal diseases that affect poultry can affect large numbers of animals and have the potential to severely impact Queensland's poultry industries. In the event of an outbreak, an emergency response is required to restrict any further spread of the disease.

Emergency animal diseases that affect poultry are avian influenza and Newcastle disease.


Diseases are more easily treated and controlled if they are detected early. In the event of a suspected emergency animal disease outbreak, an action plan must be put in place. The plan should include:

  • the circumstances when an alert should be raised
  • who to contact (e.g. veterinarian, Biosecurity Queensland)
  • what high level biosecurity measures need to be activated, such as quarantine procedures.

Do not remove any animals from the property. This will help to reduce the risk of disease spreading and allow authorities to test for disease or examine in a post-mortem. The Queensland Government does not charge for investigations into suspected reportable disease incidents, even if the result is negative.

Report an unusually large number of dead or sick animals to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.

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