Prevention of Ratite Diseases

‘All-in/all-out’ management should be applied to ratite farms, to prevent transmission of infectious diseases. Producers can minimize the possibility of infection by maintaining separate growout breeding and trading facilities by at least 300 m.

  1. Breeding stock should be maintained in a closed unit. If new birds are purchased, a thorough physical examination should be performed with appropriate diagnostic procedure before delivery.
  2. New birds should be quarantined for at least sixty days in a separate facility, and monitored for the presence of disease.
  3. Ratite producers should limit visits to other farms. A complete body cleaning, and change of all clothing and shoes, should take place before interacting with home stock.
  4. Visitors should be provided with rubber boots and coveralls before entering pens.
  5. Care should be taken when decontaminating the interior and exterior of transport vehicles.
  6. A very important policy of a ratite facility is to confine activities to one species, due to the danger of cross-transmission of infectious organisms between ratites, water fowl, exotic birds and livestock.
  7. All water should be free of pathogens and should be analyzed annually to confirm quality.Bird pens should be placed in a well-drained area, and fence posts should be on the outside of the pen.
  8.  A structure placed in the middle of the pen will reduce exposure to wind and precipitation, and will protect food trays.
  9. Sufficiently-high, strong wire fencing will reduce injuries to birds and prevent attack by wild animals. Fences should reach down to the ground if a perimeter fence is not in place, to reduce exposure to wild animals or stray dogs.
  10. At most ostrich facilities, producers prefer to leave a space for escape under the bottom line of the fence, and a perimeter fence should therefore be in place. Electric fences and dogs have been used with success in keeping out unwanted animals which may injure livestock.