The poultry industry in Delaware had a total economic impact of more than $4.6 billion in 2014. That’s a lot of eggs in one basket.
So it comes as little surprise that the state wants to keep its chickens healthy.

The poultry industry in Delaware had a total economic impact of more than $4.6 billion in 2014. That’s a lot of eggs in one basket.
So it comes as little surprise that the state wants to keep its chickens healthy.
That is why preventing the spread of avian influenza, or bird flu, will be such an important topic at the annual “Cooptastic!” event at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Cooptastic! is free for both backyard and small-flock poultry growers and will take place in the Dover Building at the fairgrounds.
The event is organized by Delaware State University Cooperative Extension and supported by the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
Some of the topics that will be covered include biosecurity for small flocks, vaccinations, disease, poultry economics and marketing, recordkeeping and getting started with a small flock.
“With avian influenza detected in both wild birds and commercial poultry farms on the West Coast, we want to emphasize simple precautions that growers can take to keep their flocks healthy and safe,” said Delaware State Veterinarian Dr. Heather Hirst, who heads the Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health section. “It is everyone’s responsibility to take basic steps to help keep avian influenza from spreading here.”
There are no public health concerns due to the avian influenza strains circulating on the West Coast and it does not affect poultry meat or egg products, which are safe to eat.
Biosecurity measures recommended by the Delaware Department of Agriculture include isolating birds from visitors and other birds; keeping shoes, tools, equipment, vehicles and cages clean when entering areas where birds live; avoiding tracking wild waterfowl feces into domestic bird living areas; avoiding sharing equipment and tools with neighbors; watching for warning signs of disease; and reporting sick or dead birds.
Avian influenza spreads bird-to-bird through saliva, feces, and other bodily fluids. Since many species of wild waterfowl can carry and shed influenza virus in feces without showing any signs of illness, it is extremely important to keep domestic birds separated from wild waterfowl and to keep domestic birds off waterways where wild waterbirds live.
Hirst said that the West Coast bird flu cases appear to have been spread to flocks by wild birds carrying the disease.
“We know that avian influenza can spread rapidly,” she said. “Our commercial poultry industry has a strong and active surveillance program, and we want to help our small-flock and backyard farmers do the same.”
Sick or dead domestic birds, including backyard flocks and commercial poultry, should be reported to the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section, 302-698-4500 or 800-282-8685 (Delaware only). To report groups of dead or sick waterfowl, shorebirds or gulls, contact DNREC’s Wildlife Section Wildlife Disease Program, 302-735-3600.