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David A.

Halvorson
Charter Diplomate American College of Poultry Veterinarians

______________________________________________________________________ 1998 Garden Avenue St. Paul, Minnesota 55113 February 29, 2012 To: Paul Hughes Fr: David Halvorson, DVM Re: Question on risk from backyard chickens The term "backyard chickens" is not well defined, so we'll use your example of less than 10 hens in an urban environment as our starting point. From that point, we'll assume that these chickens are not routinely moved to poultry auctions and spend most of their lives at home which is in the USA or Canada. (Third world backyard chickens may be raised quite differently and so we are not speaking of them here.) That said, the urban flock of six to ten female chickens is very unlikely to pose disease risk to other poultry and is very unlikely to pose a nuisance risk to neighbors or the community. The possible food safety risk is comparable to food raised on commercial farms - there are some advantages to both systems. I would categorize the risk of disease of poultry or risk of food safety of humans as negligible to low. Commercial poultry also have very low risk, when reared in total confinement. If a producer is smaller than "commercial" size but bigger than backyard size there are areas for risk to increase. Often moderately sized poultry operations, with less biosecurity in force than larger farms and more poultry than backyard farms, may have multiple species and ages, have contact with poultry markets, and attract wild birds.