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Improving Disease Preparedness Among Small-Scale Poultry Owners

Our current research is focused on identifying knowledge gaps and developing and testing a disease prevention, preparedness, and response intervention for small-scale poultry owners and their extension and 4-H educators.

Small-scale or “backyard” poultry farming is gaining popularity in the U.S.; the American Pet Producers Association estimates 10 million households owned chickens in 2018. Yet, unlike large-scale poultry producers, backyard poultry owners may have little to no training in agriculture and little interaction with veterinarians, resulting in a lack of clinical knowledge and awareness regarding prevention, preparedness, and response to diseases such as high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

researchers posing in front of a chicken coop
Research Photo
inside the chicken coop the chickens have shade and access to water

Photos from a recent farm visit as part of the project.

Research Objectives

Our current research is broken into four main objectives:

  1. Conduct focus groups with stakeholders
  2. Identify priority areas for engagement
  3. Develop, deliver and test educational materials to improve knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) among extension educators and 4-H educators
  4. Develop, deliver and test educational materials to improve KAP among small-scale poultry owners.

As part of this research, we conduct workshops with Indiana stakeholders to characterize small-scale poultry farming in Indiana and identify priorities for improving disease preparedness. We also develop and distribute KAP surveys via existing networks across Indiana, including poultry owners engaged with Purdue’s Extension service, youth engaged with Indiana’s 4-H program, and extension and 4-H educators, targeting ~5,000 people. This informs the development of an evidence-based curriculum for improving KAP concerning disease preparedness for small-scale poultry owners amongst extension and 4-H educators. Additionally, we develop and test educational programs and marketing materials to address gaps in KAP in small-scale poultry owners. We evaluate impact through qualitative and quantitative methods.

Upon completion of the project, we will have quantified baseline KAP regarding biosecurity and disease preparedness among key stakeholders in small-scale poultry systems, identified relevant knowledge gaps, and developed an evidence-based scalable intervention to improve disease prevention, preparedness, and response in these groups. Finally providing targeted, informed outreach and education for small- scale poultry owners will be a critical step toward reducing the risk of transmission of HPAI and other infectious pathogens.

This project is funded by the National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program (NADPRP).

Learn more about the 4-H program

Learn more about Avian Influenza.