SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — People who own backyard flocks, or small flocks, of poultry need to be vigilant to protect them from avian flu, an avian expert with the University of Minnesota veterinary school said.

Avian flu has been confirmed in small flocks in South Dakota and in neighboring states. Most small flocks include chickens, said Carol Cardona, of the U of MN.

Cardona said there are basic steps to protect small flocks.

“The first is don’t bring wild birds to your small flock. If you’re feeding wild birds don’t fill your feeders at this time,” Cardona said. “If you have a pond nearby, keep your poultry away from that…”

“Feed your poultry indoors. If you can’t feed them indoors use netting to cover them,” Cardona said.

The netting doesn’t need to keep out the smaller birds but it should be the kind that can keep out wild waterfowl.

“It’s not that the small birds aren’t important to keep away from your poultry flock. But if you have $10 to spend on biosecurity spend $9 of that on keeping the waterfowl away,” Cardona said.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health has banned the trading and sale of poultry within the state.

Cardona said that’s good advice for all small flock owners.

Small flock owners should not be visiting each other’s flocks now because they could spread avian flu from one bird to another.

Jason Ramsdell, the general manager of Dakota Layers in Flandreau, said in a March 14 KELOLAND News interview and story that owners of backyard or small flocks should also follow some basic practices he uses.

He doesn’t enter a farm store with the same shoes he may wear at his office and vice versa because he wants to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

When baby chicks arrive at a local farm store, he won’t go into the store to avoid any contamination to the chicks or his egg laying flock.

“It’s not that (small flock) owners don’t understand the risk, they want their flocks to stay healthy too,” Ramsdell said.

Cardona said small flocks can include egg layers that supply eggs to a family and others. Some flocks are made of exotic or specifically bred poultry.

Although the size of the flock is smaller, those flocks are valuable to the owner, Cardona said.