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Mass pheasant death prompts warning

The death of more than 700 ring neck pheasants from botulism at an Ourimbah property have prompted a warning from biosecurity experts to report unusual symptoms and behaviour in domestic poultry.

Greater Sydney Local Land Services District Veterinarian Dr Aziz Chowdhury said botulism was a rare condition caused by a toxin found in the environment often spread by wild birds, rotting carcasses or other contaminated material.

“It is characterised in poultry by paralysis of the neck and limbs and generally impacts multiple birds very quickly,” he said.

Dr Chowdhury praised the vigilance of the affected landholders Dermott and Marion Devlin who reported the deaths immediately.

“The couple reported the sudden mortalities to us immediately so we were able to carry out the necessary testing and limit the impact on their flock as well as the risk to neighbouring properties in the area,” he said.

“They were hugely cooperative, listened to my advice and were quick to take steps to contain the issue.”

Dr Chowdhury encouraged other poultry and stock owners to report unusual signs, symptoms and sudden deaths immediately.

“Time is of the essence when it comes to reporting stock sickness and we are here to help landholders when it comes to protecting their stock and potentially their land from the impact of disease,” he said.

Mr Devlin said they were committed to running a responsible farming operation.

“We don’t want to impact on other landholders or our agricultural markets by cutting corners,” he said. “Dr Chowdhury and his team have been extremely professional and helped us understand what we needed to do reduce the risk to our other animals, our land and our neighbours.”

Botulism is best prevented by

  • removing dead birds daily
  • removing the source of the toxin
  • supplying clean feed and water and prevent wild bird access to the feeder and water
  • keeping birds away from stagnant or pooled water
  • providing feed in containers and not on the ground.

Sick birds should be isolated and provided with food and water.

For further information or to talk to an expert contact Greater Sydney Local Land Services on 1300 795 299.


Media contact: Nikki McGrath, ph (02) 4724 2138