Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bird-flu in the USA

U.S. Bird Flu Outbreak Hits Millions of Iowa Egg-Laying Hens
Many of the 3.8 million egg-laying hens in an Iowa flock probably have bird flu as the biggest single outbreak of the virus reported in the U.S. added to concerns that turkey and egg supplies will be hampered by the disease.

“Despite best efforts, we now confirm many of our birds are testing positive” for avian influenza, closely held Sonstegard Foods Co. said in a statement dated April 20. The company said its Sunrise Farms unit close to Harris, Iowa, in Osceola County has 3.8 million hens.

The U.S. in February 1 had 362.1 million egg-laying hens, and Iowa with about 59.6 million is the state with the most, the latest government data on March 23 showed. Commercial turkey flocks with more than 2 million birds in eight states have been reported with the virus by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
“A lot of poultry meat and eggs won’t make it to market,” John Glisson, a vice president of research at the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, said during a panel discussion Tuesday at a National Chicken Council conference in Cambridge, Maryland. The U.S. and Canada are “implementing plans that have been set up for years” to fight disease, he said.

Hormel Foods Corp., the owner of Jennie-O turkeys, said Monday that annual profit may be eroded because the virus is hampering production. The company’s shares headed for the biggest decline in six weeks.


Before Monday, avian flu was found primarily in commercial turkey flocks, particularly in Minnesota, the largest U.S. producer.
The virus was first confirmed in a commercial turkey flock in the central U.S. last month after an outbreak began in wild birds and backyard flocks in the western U.S. in late 2014.

The disease has been found in some states that fall along a Mississippi River migratory route for waterfowl. China has halted all U.S. poultry imports since January, and other nations have imposed bans. Birds in flocks detected with the virus don’t enter the food system, according to the USDA.

“It’s not a food safety issue, it’s not a human-health concern, but we certainly are worried for this particular flock owner” in Iowa, Randy Olson, the executive director of the state’s egg council and poultry association, said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “We’re worried about the spread of this disease, and we’re encouraging all flock owners whether they have hundreds of birds or just a few in their backyards to practice very strict biosecurity." [...]

Here is some info about backyard chicken biosecurity:

Avian influenza basics for urban and backyard poultry owners
[...] Biosecurity steps to protect your flock

In order to help flock owners to keep their birds healthy by preventing disease, biosecurity is a must! Introductions of HPAI come from waterfowl (ducks and geese) and gulls that come to Minnesota. Once poultry are infected, they can spread the disease to new flocks. Now is a great time to review your biosecurity. The USDA provides the following tips on preventing AI in your poultry:

Keep your distance (separating your poultry from disease introduction). Some examples are:

Restrict access from wildlife and wild birds to your birds by use of enclosed shelter and fencing of the outdoor areas. Use of smaller mesh hardware cloth which allows exclusion of wild birds while still allowing outdoor exposure.
Caretakers should not have contact with other poultry or birds prior to contact with their own birds. Restrict access to your poultry if your visitors have birds of their own.
Keep different species of poultry and age groups separated due to differences in susceptibility.
Look at your own setting, what can you do to prevent your birds from contact with other birds that could introduce HPAI?

Keep it clean (cleaning and disinfecting). Some examples are:

Keep feeders and waterers clean and out of reach of wild birds. Clean up feed spills.
Change feeding practices if wild birds continue to be present.
Use dedicated or clean clothing and foot wear when working with poultry
Clean and then disinfect equipment that comes in contact with your birds such as shovels and rakes.
Conduct frequent cleaning and disinfecting of housing areas and equipment to limit contact of birds with their waste.
Evaluate your practices. Is it clean or is there room for improvement?

Don't haul disease home. Some examples are:

Introduction of new birds or returning birds to the flock after exhibition. Keep them separated for at least 30 days.
Returning dirty crates or other equipment back to the property without cleaning and disinfecting. This includes the tires on the vehicles and trailers.
Take a look and be critical. Is that site where you have set up a quarantine really separated well enough to keep your flock safe? Where do you clean crates? Can the runoff get to your birds?

Don't borrow disease from your neighbors

Don't share equipment or reuse materials like egg cartons from neighbors and bird owners, you could be borrowing disease.
Do you have what you need to separate yourself from your friends and neighbors? Now is the time to get the equipment and supplies you need to make that possible. [...]
Basically, no free range chickens. And what is a back-yard chicken, if not free-range?

More Bird-Flu headlines HERE.

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