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 Blog Post

Protecting Your Flock: Premises Registration and Biosecurity

March 25, 2021 12:00 AM
By: Nan Hanshaw, DVM, DACVPM

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Why should I get a Premises ID?

Contagious poultry diseases such as Avian Influenza and Virulent Newcastle Disease can quickly wipe out whole poultry flocks, including backyard exhibition-type flocks. In addition to the devastating loss of the animals, auctions, markets, and shows are often shut down. The sale of poultry and products worldwide is affected when commercial flocks are infected with these diseases, causing severe economic hardships for poultry owners and growers, and affecting the world's supply of poultry meat and eggs for food. Recovery from a disease outbreak can take a long time, and some may never be able to replace their flocks. This is why prevention is essential.

The ability to rapid identify where poultry flocks are located in a disease outbreak is important to help animal health officials stop the spread of disease quickly. Using Premises ID, state officials can quickly notify all flock owners of a dangerous disease in their area, and to provide recommendations for reducing the risk of their flocks becoming infected, and to recommend testing if needed to rule out disease.

What does a Premises ID Number look like?

A Premises Identification Number (PIN) is a unique combination of letters and numbers assigned to a geographic location where poultry are housed, sold, exhibited, or processed. There are both state and federal premises ID numbers—a PA number and a USDA number. The PA number contains eight digits and begins with "PA". The USDA number contains seven digits, begins with several zeroes, and is often used for movement of poultry or products across state lines. Usually both numbers will be provided to you on a certificate when you register.

Is premises registration required?

No—premises registration is voluntary, but it is recommended to help keep your flock safe.

How do I register?

Registration is easy—you can register using an online form at the following link:

Premises Registration Form - Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

You can register online or call 717-836-3235 or email to request a paper form.

Does it cost anything?

No—there is no cost to register your premises.

What if I have other production animals on my premises?

If you have other production animals on your premises, include them on the premises registration form. You will be notified of deadly diseases affecting those species in an emergency. If you add more animal species later, contact us and we'll update your information.

How will I be contacted in an emergency?

Contact is quicker by email—please provide an email address on the premises registration form. It can be an email of a friend or relative who can reach out to you in an emergency if you don't have an email address. If this is not possible, please provide a current phone number. It's important to notify us of any changes in your contact information after you register so we can reach you in an emergency.

Testing Before Shows

Most poultry entering shows must have been negative on a test for Avian Influenza within 30 days prior to entry, and for Salmonella Pullorum within 90 days prior to entry.  Waterfowl are exempt from the Pullorum test requirement. The testing requirement helps reduce the risk of birds infected with these diseases from entering a show and spreading disease to other birds. This testing does not guarantee that birds are not carrying any diseases, so it's also important to be sure your birds appear healthy on the day of the show before cooping them on the show grounds. A health certificate is required for entry into a show, and although it can be filled out by the owner, it gives some level of confidence that the owner is aware of their flock's health status and will do their best to bring only healthy birds to a show. Always isolate your birds for at least two weeks after you return home with them, in case they have picked something up that could infect the rest of your flock. 

Biosecurity Basics

As a flock owner, you should be committed to biosecurity to protect your flock. Biosecurity practices can be simple and should be in place 24/7 to help prevent disease-causing pathogens from infecting your flock. Using a combination of physical and operational measures, you can quickly make a biosecurity plan for your premises.

A good biosecurity plan should include the following principles:

Line of Separation (LOS)—A line which separates poultry from potential disease sources. This can be walls or fences, and everyone who crosses this line must take precautions to leave pathogens behind. Pets and other animals should be kept outside of the LOS.

People—Limit the number of visitors to your flock. Everyone crossing the LOS should follow the procedures outlined in the biosecurity plan. A clean pair of boots or shoes worn only in the poultry area should be the minimum requirement. Everyone should also wear clean clothes or clean coveralls around your birds. Hands should be washed or sanitized before crossing the LOS. No one should be around your birds if they have been around other poultry or wild birds.

Pest Control—Rodents, wild birds, and insects can carry disease into your flock and access should be controlled. Clean up any spilled feed and keep the poultry area clean and free of debris to avoid attracting pests.

Equipment and Vehicles—Equipment should be kept clean, and if you share it make sure it is cleaned and disinfected before being returned to you. Vehicles should be parked as far away from the poultry area as possible and should be kept clean. If you visit other poultry flocks, wash your vehicle before returning. Keep windows closed to prevent flies from getting inside.

Disposal of Dead Birds and Manure—Any dead animal must be properly disposed of within 48 hours. Cover any dead animals quickly after death until disposal to prevent wild birds or animals from spreading any pathogens from that animal. Composting can be a good option if done properly-contact your PSU Extension office for more information on composting. All disposal must meet DEP regulations.

Water and Feed—Water should be from a well or a municipal source, rather than a pond or other surface water source. Feed should be stored properly to be kept fresh and protected from wild animals and pets that could contaminate it.

Manure and Litter—Manure and fresh litter should be stored so that it is safe from wild animals and pets.

New Birds—Only get poultry from trusted sources such as NPIP hatcheries, and be sure to verify their program participation by asking for their NPIP number before you buy (you can check the number at, and requiring a 9-3 form when you purchase eggs or birds from them. Ask any poultry sources-even if they are on NPIP- about their disease prevention and vaccination programs. Keep any new birds isolated from your flock for at least two weeks and care for those birds after you care for your own flock each day. Disease may not be apparent for several days or weeks.

Separation of Species—If you must have ducks or geese in your flock with chickens, turkeys, or game birds, keep them separated. Even if the waterfowl are not contained behind a wall or fence, keep the other species contained and as far away from the waterfowl as possible. Waterfowl are natural carriers of Avian Influenza, and can be infected without showing any signs of disease, but they can still infect your other birds.

Report Unexplained Illness or Death—If your flock has sudden unexplained severe illness or death loss, contact the Department at 717-772-2852 (24/7) and the veterinarian on call will talk with you. If necessary, someone will come out to sample birds for testing for Avian Influenza and Virulent Newcastle Disease. For routine poultry management, get to know your PSU Extension poultry specialist. They have years of experience and many resources available for you. The Pennsylvania Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System (PADLS) has poultry disease specialists and three laboratories available to help with diagnosis if you have sick birds (Welcome to PADLS).

For more information about biosecurity and protecting your flock, go to the USDA resource center at USDA APHIS | Defend the Flock Resource Center.

Remember—your flock depends on you!

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