University of Maryland Extension


Isolation is used to help prevent the spread of disease. Confinement is the main way to isolate and separate your birds. Many people worry that isolating their birds will be difficult. Isolation is when a bird(s) is separated away from the rest of the flock. It is simple and can be accomplished several ways. The simplest form of isolation is to place the bird(s) in a plastic carrier. You can also isolate birds by putting them in a separate pasture. Make sure that the isolated birds are not close enough to sneeze or cough through the fence onto other birds. The whole purpose of placing the sick bird in its own pasture is so that it cannot make contact with the rest of the flock, potentially causing disease in the rest of the flock. You may need to create an additional barrier (a strand of electric or temporary fence) if the pastures share a side of fence. The most important benefit to isolating sick birds is protecting the rest of your flock from disease. Remember, a healthy flock = a healthy income!   

If you own several birds, they need to be separated into flocks according to age (younger flock vs. older flock), especially if multiple flocks are to be kept on the same farm. Older birds will pick at the younger birds, often causing injury. NEVER run a mixed species flock. By mixing species, disease control can be extremely difficult. Confinement is the best way to isolate your birds. Design a type(s) of confinement that fits the needs of your facility.

Isolating your flock is considered being a good neighbor. If you live near a commercial operation, many commercial operators are worried about your small flock making their flocks sick. Birds do not understand property lines and can be a nuisance if they travel onto your neighbor's property. Physical barriers (trees, fencing, gates, and walls) can help keep your birds from traveling off the property


How to Isolate Birds

  1. Select an ideal location on your farm. The location should be of easy access to you as a caretaker but restrict visitors from the area.  An easy way to accomplish this is to consider building a "barrier fence" around your birds.
  2. Before setting up a housing area, consider that each bird should have 3 to 3 1/2 feet of floor space. Spacing will vary depending on the type of bird you decide to raise. When planning a layout, keep in mind of future expansion should you decide to increase the size of your flock.
  3. Determine how you will separate multiple flocks within your facility. Do you want to put up a fence within the confinement area creating separate run areas? Build another confinement area?

Select building material needed for housing. Items and materials often used for housing may include (but are not limited to) dog crates, chicken coops, chicken wire, T-posts, and plywood.

Many supplies can be found at local hardware, lumber, or farm stores. When building your confinement area, it is important to consider that birds have access to shelter which protects them from bad weather. It is also a good idea to cover the top of the enclosure so that birds do not escape and other animals cannot enter.

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