What is NPIP?
The National Poultry Improvement Plan was established in the early 1930's to provide a cooperative industry, state, and federal program through which new diagnostic technology can be effectively applied to the improvement of poultry and poultry products throughout the country. (Description taken from Poultryimprovement.org)
Today the NPIP program is available to commercial growers and hatcheries as well as backyard growers and breeders. For back yard growers and breeders participation is optional and 100% voluntary. Since I reside in the state of Georgia where the NPIP headquarters is located, I will use Georgia's NPIP rules for this blog.
NPIP is a requirement to legally ship hatching eggs, live chicks and poultry across state lines.
Making the appointment....
Most chicken owners I have spoken with about NPIP have a lot of misconceptions about the program as well as concerns regarding their flocks. I had the same concerns before I committed to joining the program.
First, NPIP is not out to get you or your flocks. Yes it is a federal program however they are unconcerned with how you want to breed your birds or if you want to eat your birds. Their primary focus is testing for 2 specific (in some states just 1) diseases that can have huge impacts and economic losses to the poultry industry. Avian influenza and Pullorum Typhoid.
Another concern is that your property, coops and runs will be judged and can weigh heavily against you when joining the program. This is a misconception. While everyone keeping chickens should practice proper poultry husbandry, your tester is not going to take or kill all your birds because they don't like how you built your coop. If they notice something that is of concern such as empty waters, feeders or excessive feces buildup in the coops then they will give a friendly and courteous reminder to ensure you are doing everything to keep your flocks healthy.
When your ready to make an appointment for testing call your local NPIP office to schedule. Most states have a limited number of testers and so appointments can be booked out a few months. It took us 4 months to get our first appointment. I would suggest making an early morning appointment so you can keep your birds cooped up, making it easier to catch them for testing.
It does not hurt to prepare for your appointment the day before. Do things like refill waters, clean coops, fill feeders, oyster shell and grit bowls. Make sure each coop is easy to access to catch the birds and that any debris or clutter is removed making the test area clean and safe for you, your tester and your birds. If you have a small table such a camping table, have it ready and disinfected. Some testers bring their own tables, others appreciate an area set up to put the testing equipment when they arrive.
When your tester(s) arrive they will put on a brand new pair of disposable coveralls, thick bio security boot covers, hair net and gloves. They are responsible for not bringing in any possible diseases to your property and they take bio security seriously.
In Georgia all birds over 4 months of age are tested.
The tester will set up their test kit which includes a needle blood catch wand, testing plate, AI blood tubes, and PT antigen.
You will then be asked to catch each bird one at a time. The tester will poke the vein in the wing and take one drop of blood to mix with the PT antigen, then the tester will fill a small tube about 1/4 full of blood to submit to the lab for the AI test. Pullorum Typhoid results are available within minutes, the AI samples have to be run at the lab and the Serum test usually takes 24 hours. Some states do an oral swab for AI. This is called a PCR test and is much the same as when a human is tested for the flu. PCR test results are available after 4 hours.
Once a bird is tested it is banded. Each band has an individual identification number which is recorded with the state NPIP office.
That's it! Your birds are tested and more than likely passed the PT as it is no longer a common disease. You will be required to sign a contract that states you will only buy and bring in birds from farms and hatcheries that have an equivalent level of testing as you. Fees vary from state to state. Some states do testing free of charge while other charge up to a couple hundred dollars. In Georgia its $25 annually and that covers 2 AI tests 6 months apart and the PT test is $0.47 per bird.
You will receive your Avian Influenza results by mail, usually within a week of testing. If there is an issue with your results you will be contacted by phone within 24 hours.
videos to our testing can be found here.
Melanie is the owner of BuckleBerry farm. Located in the beautiful state of Georgia. Born in England, Melanie moved to the U.S. In 2000. She is the wife of a Navy Veteran and has 2 Children. Melanie always dreamed of owning a farm since she was a little girl. Her passion and love for animals has been her driving force. In 2016 her dream became a reality, with only self taught experience and education Melanie is tackling the challenges and enjoying the benefits of owning a mini farm.