Biosecurity for your pigeon loft
By Carol Cardona Extension poultry virologist
Taken from the University of Minnesota Extension
Biosecurity in your loft helps prevent disease in your loft.
- Isolate your flock from other birds. Always quarantine new or returning birds for 14 days.
- Avoid contacting other birds or sharing equipment between flocks.
- Clean and disinfect vehicles, equipment, and clothing used in or near the loft.
- Limit visitors and use signs to keep individuals out.
- On a club basis, make sure transporters are cleaned and disinfected between uses.
What is biosecurity?
Biosecurity is a set of steps you must take to prevent or reduce disease in your loft.
On a broader scale, biosecurity is a formal system to stop bacteria or viruses from moving from one animal, loft, or person to another.
Biosecurity costs are minimal and under your control. Most of the cost comes from some disinfectant products and possibly disposable smocks, hats, and shoe covers. You can quickly and cheaply adapt lofts for good biosecurity measures, even if you need to add barricades or fences.
Basic biosecurity measures
Most handlers already apply some form of effective biosecurity measures:
- Cleaning the fountains twice daily
- Cleaning and scraping perches
- Spraying the loft for parasites
- Storing feed in rodent-proof steel bins
- Wearing a hat in the loft
- Isolating new stock for at least 14 days
These biosecurity practices will help you prevent the following:
- Disease spread between racing pigeon lofts.
- Introduction of new infections to birds prone to disease.
Confining your birds
Always isolate your flock from all other birds, especially chickens.
You might already be isolated if there aren’t any birds in your neighborhood or you don’t have neighbors. If your neighbor has chickens near your loft, you might ask them to move them. Ideally, you should keep the birds as far apart as you can.
Isolate your loft by fencing around the outside of it to keep birds and animals out.
Gates can help with isolation, sometimes without fencing. A gate that crosses a driveway can effectively stop vehicle traffic. But, to be effective you must keep the gates closed.
Create a buffer zone between lofts or flocks, whether or not you have good fencing. You may need to discuss and agree on a buffer zone area with your neighbor. This will allow you and your neighbor to keep your birds’ housing far apart.
New birds can bring unwanted disease agents into the loft.
- Always quarantine new birds for at least 14 days.
- Invest in pre-purchase testing if you can.
Contact with other birds
Avoid contact with any other birds. Other bird species can carry disease agents that pigeon owners don’t want in their lofts. The following contacts are listed from highest to lowest for disease risk.
- Live bird markets, auctions, and shows.
- Dead birds, especially pigeons.
- Pet or feed stores that sell excess racing pigeon stock.
- Hunting (any species of bird or animal).
Avoid contact with all other birds, especially chickens. When there’s contact, change clothes and shower before returning to the loft. This practice is key when you encounter the most dangerous contacts on the list.
Avoid the most dangerous contact with other birds. If you contact birds owned by trusted people:
- Change into dedicated protective clothing that you will leave in the loft.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before returning to your loft.
Hand washing is one of the simplest and most effective biosecurity measures.
When club member has disease or illness in their loft, they must be ready to take extra steps to prevent disease spread.
- Not moving birds
- Stopping all visits unless they need them
- Notifying other lofts that may have been in contact with the disease case
Traffic control includes the traffic onto your property and the traffic of you and visitors on your property.
- Limit visitors to the loft, especially during high risks, such as during breeding and the active racing series in your area.
- Have visitors wear protective clothing, including overshoes or covers. Have hand sanitation available for visitors.
- Use signs on gates or doors to keep out unwelcome visitors.
Vehicles that have been near other birds can easily carry disease agents near or into the loft. Vehicles you use to haul feed from feed supply houses are very prone to contamination. Review your routine for hauling feed for good biosecurity.
Use gates and signs to keep vehicle traffic away from your loft. Talk to drivers that need to enter your loft and make sure they haven’t been near any birds within 48 hours. Make sure vehicles covered in mud or other gross contamination are cleaned before entering your property.
Keep equipment used around other birds out of the loft. If you must use this equipment in your loft, fully clean and disinfect it before bringing it into the loft.