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In this episode I talk to Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner (University of Maine at Orono) about HPAI bird flu, and what to do if you think your birds have it.
To keep an eye on what’s happening in the US: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/avian/avian-influenza/hpai-2022
What’s interesting this year is that there are MANY backyard flocks with HPAI, versus in 2015. One reason for that may be that many more people know about this dangerous disease, and want to help contain it. The commercial flocks were already trained to watch for, and report it. With the impressive increase in readily available biosecurity information for the backyard poultry owners that has been provided by the USDA and many poultry professionals since 2015, it may be that backyard producers are lending a hand to contain this disease.
As of this week, it has affected 377 flocks in 36 states in the US, causing the loss of over 40 million birds. More backyard flocks (191) than commercial flocks (186) are affected.
So what do you do if your backyard poultry need to stay safe from HPAI for awhile yet?
- Know the risk for your area. Look at this website for info on your province, and reach out to your local poultry producers to see what precautions they are taking:
- When in doubt, follow biosecurity guidelines: Limit visitors, don’t bring in new birds, keep wild birds out AND don’t let your birds range or swim where wild birds have been. Control/prevent rodent infestations. Keep your birds contained in a coop or tractor that excludes wild birds and their droppings.
- Focus on optimizing your birds’ habitat. Water is essential! Clean and available to all birds simultaneously: get on a regular schedule to freshen up the water system. Be sure the nipple systems are working well! Ventilation: if you smell ammonia, consider cleaning/replacing some bedding, or enhancing ventilation (flow-through via doors/windows works well, especially if the windows are screened). Make sure your nest boxes are clean and dry, with fresh litter weekly. Don’t overfeed your birds: they don’t need much for treats.
- Bored birds peck each other: keep them busy! Deep litter is fun for birds. A handful of cracked corn in deep shavings will keep them busy for hours. Vegetable trimmings are delicious and fun. Make sure they aren’t too far gone… Cabbages, kale stalks, overgrown broccoli, etc. can be stimulating if hung from the coop ceiling so birds can “attack” them. Remove them when they are no longer fresh. PVC foraging toys can be easily made. Treat balls (meter out a few grains when rolled) are available online. Swings for the coop can be fun. Add to the number and size/height of the perches in the coop: make sure you have far more perching space than you need.
When summer weather gets dry and hot, and prior to the fall passage of wild migrating birds, we all hope that the HPAI virus on the landscape will lose its potency and our birds can safely roam. However, the basic lessons of biosecurity still pertain, since there are other diseases that wild birds can share with our poultry. Be sure you assess the risk in your area prior to free-ranging your birds.
Maps of the Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba zones are available on the CFIA Avian Influenza Zones website.
Also previously announced, effective December 19, 2021, APHIS requires a health certificate from the CFIA and an import permit for pet and zoo birds, as well as columbiformes, such as pigeons and doves, imported from Canada.
Pet birds, zoo birds, and columbiformes originating from or transiting a restricted zone must fly directly to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, or Miami International Airport in Florida to undergo a 30-day federal quarantine that includes mandatory testing.
Under these restrictions, processed avian products and byproducts originating from or transiting a restricted zone, imported as cargo, must be accompanied by an APHIS import permit and/or government certification confirming that the products were treated according to APHIS requirements.
Fresh, unprocessed shell/table eggs and other egg products, void of the shell (i.e., liquid eggs, dried egg whites) originating from or transiting a restricted zone, imported as cargo, are prohibited unless they are consigned from the port of arrival directly to an APHIS-approved breaking and pasteurization facility. An import permit and/or certificate is/are not required for these shipments when consigned to an APHIS-approved establishment.
Processed avian products and byproducts, including egg/egg products, for personal use originating from or transiting a restricted zone and entering in passenger baggage must:
have a thoroughly cooked appearance;
be shelf-stable as a result of APHIS-approved packaging and cooking (i.e., packaged in hermetically sealed containers and cooked by a commercial method after such packing to produce articles that are shelf-stable without refrigeration); or
be accompanied by an APHIS import permit and/or government certification confirming that the products/byproducts were treated according to APHIS requirements.
Unprocessed avian products and byproducts originating from or transiting a restricted zone will not be permitted to enter the United States. This includes hunter-harvested meat. Non-fully finished avian hunting trophies must be consigned to an APHIS-approved taxidermy establishment.
These restrictions will be updated as additional epidemiological information is obtained. Current information can be found on the APHIS website.
Please share the following link with others who may be interested in these updates. Click here to subscribe to the VS Animal Health Stakeholder Registry. This link will also allow you to change or cancel your subscriptions.
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