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When we looked for our first chickens, it seemed a little strange, all the new chicken terminology. One thing we kept seeing NPIP Certification.
But what in the heck does that even mean? Do I need that – is it something I get or something the chickens get? It all seemed so confusing.
NPIP certification is something that you are likely to read about or hear about when you are looking to buy or ship chicks from individual breeders or hatcheries. And you’ll need to know what it is so you can make the right decisions for your flock.
What is NPIP Certification?
NPIP certification is a program which is voluntary for chicken breeders and flock owners. It provides testing and disease free certification for flocks. The diseases that can be tested for in the program are: Avian Influenza, Pullorum, Typhoid and MG. Although, you don’t have to test for all of those diseases when participating in the program.
The main disease testing in the program is Pullorum-Typhoid (both types of Salmonella). However, participants can opt to also get tested for various types of Mycoplasm’s as well as AI (Avian Influenza).
NPIP is short for National Poultry Improvement Program. The National Poultry Improvement Program is a program that all states partake in to help decrease the spread of disease in poultry.
Why Look for NPIP Certification?
NPIP testing and certification is important to look for when you are purchasing chicks or older birds from someone. It will not absolutely guarantee completely healthy birds, since it only tests for a handful of potential diseases.
However, it does show that the birds are clean of these diseases. It also shows a dedication from that breeder to produce healthy birds.
It is also a very good idea for any chicken breeders that are planning on selling chicks. First, it shows a commitment to potential buyers to have healthy birds. It is also necessary in order to ship chicks into many states.
Additionally, if your flock is certified, you need to only purchase from other certified flocks unless you fully quarantine any new birds and then test after a period of time before integrating with your existing flock.
How To Get Certified
Although the actual disease testing is the same, the process for how to get NPIP certified does vary from state to state.
Some states (like Virginia) run trainings for people to become NPIP testers. Those testers then can test their own birds and set a price to go to other’s and test their birds.
Some states send a tester out when you request to become NPIP certified. In order to find out about a particular states requirements you can look up your state’s Department of Agriculture for specific details.
How to do the Pullorum-Typhoid Testing
If your state is one where you need to become a certified tester in order for your flock to be certified. Don’t be nervous about performing the testing on your birds. It is really quite simple and is done annually to maintain your certification.
1. You simply get a blood sample from each of the bird’s on your property. This is only done on adult birds over a certain age.
This is typically done with a special device with a sharp point on one side and a “blood loop” on the other.
2. Find a vein on your chicken. It is easiest under the wing where the veins are thick and the skin is thin. Use the sharp point of the device and lightly prick one of the large veins.
3. Use the “blood loop” to collect a small sample of blood. Use a cotton ball and apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding.
4. Dip the “blood loop” into the antigen. If there is no reaction, other than color change, you’re chickens are disease free. If you see what looks like large pepper flakes, you will need to report the findings and have a retest done.