Chicken Death and Wildfires

Asked September 21, 2020, 5:32 PM EDT

We had a chicken die fairly suddenly during the recent wildfire events, and we are concerned that the death could be smoke-related as we have not been able to determine the cause of death. Is OSU extension performing any kind of necropsies or tests on poultry at this time?

Lane County Oregon

1 Response


Thank you for reaching out to Extension, I would recommend that you reach out directly to the the Vet Diagnostic Lab at the OSU Veterinary School: 541-737-3261 to confirm their recommendation on testing. For some foundational information you can also review the following: Birds, different from other animals (i.e. mammals), have a very particular breathing system, characterized by unidirectional airflow and cross-current gas exchange making them more susceptible to exposure to wildfire smoke. Research on the impact of ash and wildfires on chickens has only recently begun. Below are resources that are available.

For post fire management it is recommended that you add clean soil, mulch, or other clean cover material to existing chicken runs to help reduce chickens’ contact with and ingestion of contaminated soil. Use clean soil when constructing new chicken runs. Provide your chickens’ regular feed in feeders and avoid scattering feed (including scratch grains and food scraps) on bare ground.

How are my backyard poultry affected by nearby wildfires?

Understanding and Communicating the Risks of Urban Fires on Eggs Produced from Backyard Chickens in California