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Poultry Program

Educates producers and consumers about the benefits of local poultry and poultry products.
MDAR Poultry Program Pictures

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza update

The Control Zone in Essex county has been released effective immediately. Permits are no longer required.

March 2024

The MA Department of Agricultural Resources has depopulated and disposed of a non-commercial, backyard flock (poultry) in Essex County, Massachusetts due to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI).  Birds on the affected premises exhibited clinical signs consistent with HPAI, and samples tested positive for the disease.

MDAR is advising backyard and commercial poultry owners to practice strong biosecurity measures to prevent domestic poultry from having contact with wild birds, their feathers, and droppings. The HPAI virus is continuing to circulate in the wild bird population, particularly in wild waterfowl. Eliminating standing water and preventing domestic birds from having access to ponds, streams, and wetland areas that attract wild waterfowl is of critical importance. Letting your flock “free range” poses substantial risk of exposure to HPAI. The consequences can be deadly.

MDAR’s Poultry Page for biosecurity resources available in English, Español, Português, 简体中文, Tiếng Vit, عربي, Kriolu di Cabo Verde, Français, Kreyòl ayisyen, ភាសាខ្មែរ, Русский, 

REPORT sick or dead birds!

Domestic:   617-626-1795 or online using Poultry Disease Reporting Form

Wild:   Department of Fish and Game, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) - Report Wild birds here.

Visit USDA’s 2022-2023 HPAI Detection Page for information on cases in Wild birds, Domestic Poultry and Mammals

Prevent exposure to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus in your Poultry Flock 

*Poultry vs Non Poultry 

When referencing a HPAI outbreak, the World Organization of Animal Health (WOAH) describes poultry flocks as poultry or non poultry. 

“WOAH, Terrestrial Animal Health Code, Glossary 

means all birds reared or kept in captivity for the production of any commercial animal products or for breeding for this purpose, fighting cocks used for any purpose, and all birds used for restocking supplies of game or for breeding for this purpose, until they are released from captivity. 
Birds that are kept in a single household, the products of which are used within the same household exclusively, are not considered poultry, provided that they have no direct or indirect contact with poultry or poultry facilities. 
Birds that are kept in captivity for other reasons, including those that are kept for shows, racing, exhibitions, zoological collections and competitions, and for breeding or selling for these purposes, as well as pet birds, are not considered poultry, provided that they have no direct or indirect contact with poultry or poultry facilities.” 

For more information about the Avian Influenza virus


Sick or dead domestic birds (chickens, turkeys, gamebirds, domestic ducks, etc.) should be reported to Department of Agricultural Resources Division of Animal Health at 617-626-1795 or through this online reporting form.

Sick or dead wild birds should be reported to the Department of Fish and Game Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) using the online form found at mass.gov/reportbirds

June 6, 2022- Notice to All Veterinarians with Bird-Owning Clients-The Department appreciates your assistance in sharing awareness of HPAI. It is also important however to ensure that poultry including chickens, ducks, geese, and other domestic birds receive veterinary care in a timely fashion. This link contains some suggestions for screening these poultry client’s calls that can guide veterinary practices in their intake protocols.

Protect Your Flock - See MDAR's Biosecurity Information below. 

The risk of humans contracting HPAI from infected birds is very, very low. Humans that are most at risk of becoming infected are individuals that have prolonged close contact with sick or dead birds. More information can be found in this Frequently Asked Questions About Avian Flu document created by MDPH, MDAR, and MDFW.

The Division of Animal Health Poultry Program strives to educate producers and consumers about the benefits of local poultry and poultry products. Massachusetts law (MGL Ch 129 sec 26B) requires that all live poultry or hatching eggs moving within the Commonwealth originate from current certified Salmonella pullorum clean flocks. The testing is free and can be arranged by calling MDAR at 617-626-1795. Other poultry testing available to Massachusetts producers are Avian influenza, Mycoplasma gallisepticum, Mycoplasma synoviae, Mycoplasma meleagradis and Salmonella enteritidis. The poultry program provides producers and consumers with educational materials, production support, egg safety, egg handling and inspections.

The definition of poultry includes, but is not limited to chickens, guinea fowl, peafowl, pheasants, partridges, quail and turkeys.

Diagnostic Testing Services for Salmonella pullorum  and Avian Influenza in poultry and the avian species listed above is available to all residents of the commonwealth who plan to sell, exhibit, or otherwise move birds of off their premises.

In response to a steady increase in the number of families raising small poultry flocks throughout the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has developed these documents to aid residential poultry producers in the methods of caring for poultry, marketing eggs and of handling the waste products. We hope these documents will also serve to educate municipal officials in communities that have not traditionally had experience with agricultural endeavors.

Biosecurity Information

Additional Resources

Poultry Dealers and Transporter Licenses

Be advised that pursuant Chapter 94,  Section 152A, “No person or business entity shall engage in the business of buying, selling or transporting live poultry unless he shall have first obtained a license therefore from” the Division of Animal Health. Such license shall expire on December thirty-first in the year or part thereof in which such license was issued.” Currently there is no fee for this license.

All licensees shall keep and maintain, for a period of one-year records of each transaction as follow:

  1. Date of transport;
  2. Name of seller & address;
  3. Name of Purchaser & address;
  4. Total number of birds transported;
  5. Species of poultry bought;
  6. Species of Poultry sold; and
  7. Pullorum Certificate, the number, and the certificate expiration*

*Adult poultry** entering the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must be accompanied by proof of an NPIP approved negative test for salmonella pullorum-typhoid and an NPIP/ VS 9-3 form, issued by the state of origin. Day old chicks and hatching eggs must originate from flocks that are NPIP salmonella pullorum-typhoid negative and be accompanied by an NPIP/ VS 9-3 form issued by the state of origin.

**The definition of “Poultry” in regards to testing requirements includes chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, and gamebirds.

All other avian species require a general health certificate for entry into the commonwealth.

If you have any questions, please call 617-626-1795.


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