Epidemiologic characterization of colorado backyard bird flocks

Emily I. Smith, John S. Reif, Ashley E Hill, Katharine E. Slota, Ryan S. Miller, Kathe E. Bjork, Kristy L. Pabilonia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Backyard gallinaceous bird flocks may play an important role in the spread of infectious diseases within poultry populations as well as the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. An epidemiologic characterization was conducted of Colorado backyard flocks to gather information on general flock characteristics, human movement of birds, human-bird interaction, biosecurity practices, and flock health. Our results suggest that backyard poultry flocks in Colorado are small-sized flocks (68.6 of flocks had <50 birds); consist primarily of layer chickens (85.49 of flocks), show chickens (32.18 of flocks), and waterfowl (34.07 of flocks); and are primarily owned for food (meat or egg) production for the family (86.44) or as pet or hobby birds (42.27). The backyard flock environment may promote bird-to-bird transmission as well as bird-to-human transmission of infectious disease. Birds are primarily housed with free access to the outside (96.85), and many are moved from the home premises (46.06 within 1 yr). Human contact with backyard flocks is high, biosecurity practices are minimal, and bird health is negatively impacted by increased movement events. Increased knowledge of backyard bird characteristics and associated management practices can provide guidelines for the development of measures to decrease disease transmission between bird populations, decrease disease transmission from birds to humans, and increase the overall health of backyard birds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-271
Number of pages9
JournalAvian Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • avian influenza
  • backyard flock
  • epidemiology
  • zoonotic disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Animals
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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