What is Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)?

Avian influenza, known as "bird flu," is a viral infection that spreads easily and quickly among birds. 

Bird flu can be carried by wild birds. Wild birds such as ducks and geese can carry diseases, including bird flu, without looking sick. If these birds come in direct or close contact with your hens, the disease can be passed onto them. There is no treatment for birds that become infected with the disease.

Your backyard hens could be at risk of catching bird flu when wild birds migrate to and through Canada in the spring and fall months, as wild birds naturally carry influenza viruses.
Preventative measures can help to keep your animals healthy. Simple, inexpensive practices can be very effective at keeping this serious disease away from your birds.

Signs of Bird Flu

Infected hens may show one or more of these signs:

  • lack of energy, movement or appetite
  • decreased egg production
  • swelling around the head, neck and eyes
  • coughing, gasping for air or sneezing
  • nervous signs, tremors or lack of coordination
  • diarrhea
  • sudden death

Protect your Hens 

  • prevent contact with wild birds and other animals
  • frequently clean poultry coops, waterers, feeders, your clothing and your boots
  • spot the signs and report early
  • limit exposure to visitors
  • keep new birds separate when introducing them to your flock

What if your Hens are Sick?

Hen owners are legally responsible to notify authorities of serious bird diseases such as bird flu. Call your veterinarian or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Animal Health office if you suspect your birds have bird flu.

What to Expect if your Hens are Infected