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Fairboards have option to cancel poultry shows

By Staff | May 16, 2015

-Farm News photo by Karen?Schwaller A HEN PERCHES in a coop as though standing guard over the eggs beneath her. As of 4 p.m. May 8, the official county of avian flu outbreaks in Iowa tallied 44, affecting 25.7 million birds. Only one case is a backyard flock of ducks in O’Brien?County.

kersh@farm-news.com

As the H5N2 avian influenza continues to spread through northwest and north central Iowa, state agricultural leaders and poultry industry officials are looking at ways to keep private poultry, referred to as backyard flocks, safe from the epidemic.

County fairs could cancel their 4-H poultry shows and new guidelines have been issued for eggs and poultry being sold at farmers’ markets, many of which begin this weekend.

The latest update on the highly pathogenic avian influenza epidemic in Iowa, issued at 4 p.m. on May 8, has 44 infected sites, with only one – a flock of 25 backyard ducks – not a commercial turkey, pullet or egg-laying site.

So far, Iowa is expected to euthanize 25.7 million birds as a result of the outbreak, but that number is expected to continue growing.

According to Linda Cline, county youth coordinator for the Webster County Extension Service in Fort Dodge, county fairs in infected areas will be determining if their poultry shows will be cancelled.

Craig De Haan, president of the Sioux County Fairboard, said his board monitors the news releases issued by the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship on the disease’s spread.

“The board has made no decision yet,” De Haan said. “It’s too early to make that decision.”

Farmer’s markets

In an effort to head off the spreading infectious avian flu, IDALS has issued guideliens for backyard poultry owners who sell their products at farmers markets.

IDALS’ directions assure the public that eating poultry products is safe. However, producers with backyard flocks within an infectious site, or a buffer zone – a 6.2 mile radius of an infected site – have some restrictions.

Poultry and poultry products cannot be transported from a farm within the buffer zone without a waiver from the state veterinarian’s office. Waiver requests can be made by calling (515) 281-5321.

The state veterinarian’s office will handle requests for transport of poultry, poultry products, feed, manure, wood chips and bedding from the control-area to outside the control area.

Eggs can be refrigerated until after the quarantine order is lifted or by permitted movement. Movement of eggs from outside a buffer zone to within a buffer zone also requires permission from the state veterinarian.

For farmers market and foodstands, IDALS has approved eggs from sources outside buffer zones as healthy for sale and consumption.

The Food and Drug Administration is the authority for food consumption approval of eggs from commercial facilities.

The pasteurization process kills HPAI by heating the eggs to a temperature that destroys the virus. The established temperature is considered to be 133 degrees for a minimum of 60 minutes.

Backyard flocks

Meanwhile, backyard flocks are believed to be vulnerable, since the highly pathogenic avian influenza is believed to be spread by migratory waterfowl, according to the Center for Disease Control.

According to the Iowa Egg Center, based at Iowa State University, biosecurity measures are essential for backyard flocks. These can include:

  • A regular supply of fresh, clean water, and a nutritious diet helps the birds’ bodies to better ward off diseases.
  • Keep pens, runs and coops clean. Poultry litter draws flies and can easily introduce sickness to the flock.
  • Purchase birds from a reputable source, like a hatchery.
  • Quantine new birds from the existing flock. This includes birds returning from shows. The length is at least two weeks, but longer is better.
  • Provide them with ample space, good ventilation and secure housing.
  • Limit the number of farm visitors, especially those who have their own birds.
  • Have birds fenced off from main foot traffic on the farm.
  • Keep rodents and insects away from birds as much as possible.
  • Don’t borrow tools or equipment from other poultry producers and don’t transport feed from one poultry site to another.
  • Keep houses and feeders for wild birds far away from the flock.
  • Keep all equipment clean. Keep in mind that disinfectant has no affect on caked on mud, manure or accumulated dust.
  • When in bird areas, wear clean clothing, or clothing dedicated to working with birds.
  • Scrub shoes with disinfectant before entering the bird area, and wash hands prior to and after working around birds.
  • Have clean boots or disposable show covers for visitors to wear around the birds.
  • Properly dispose of dead birds and recognize the signs of birds getting sick. These can include an increase in bird mortality, sneezing, gasping for air, coughing, nasal discharges, green and watery diahhrea, sudden weight loss, poor energy, lack of appetite, a drop in egg production, or soft shells or odd-shaped eggs; swelling around eyes, neck and head; purple coloration of of waddles, cones and legs.
  • Report sick birds to the state veterinarian, or to a local Extension office, a local vet or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s veterianary service office.

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