Now’s the Time to Be on the Lookout for Avian Flu in Your Flock

Outbreaks of avian flu may have declined a bit over the summer since the virus doesn't do well in the heat. But with cooler temperatures the danger rises again. In addition, one of the ways that Avian Flu may travel is via migrating birds, especially waterfowl. And since this is the time that migration occurs, it means its also a good time to take extra steps to protect your pastured poultry. The flu can travel on manure, egg flats, creates, farming materials and equipment, and with people who have unknowingly picked up the virus on their clothes, shoes or hands. Poultry that come in contact with any of these contract the disease and then continue its spread. Here's how to recognize the flu, how to prevent it and who to call for help. Avian Flu Symptoms Birds that have contracted avian flu will show these symptoms: • Lack of energy and appetite • Decreased egg production and/or soft-shelled or misshapen eggs • Swelling of the head, eyelids, comb, wattles, and hocks • Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs, and legs • Runny nose, coughing, sneezing • Stumbling or falling down • Diarrhea • Sudden death without any clinical signs Protecting Your Flock Biosecurity steps are actually pretty straight forward, and they are things you should do all the time, whether o

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3 thoughts on “Now’s the Time to Be on the Lookout for Avian Flu in Your Flock

  1. Way down South, on the Gulf Coast, we are mindful of the possibility of the “Bird Flu” coming with migratory birds. I am glad to read someone trying to calm our fears.

    You mentioned “How many outdoor hobby flocks in these two states were infected from migratory birds?” as if the number was very low? I hope it is– we have not heard any reports on this way down here because it is not “news worthy.”

    Is that the case? That our hobby flock *should* be alright?


  2. Kathy,

    Avian flu has been found in migratory birds and it is remotely possible that they can spread the flu to domestic birds. The numbers of infected wild birds can probably be counted on one hand, including both Central and Pacific Flyways. In Minnesota, thousands of migratory birds and wild turkeys have been tested and have come up negative. A blackcapped chickadee and coopers hawk have tested positive for avian flu in Minneosta but I am not sure that it is the exact same strain. Let’s not forget the northern pintail from the Pacific Flyway.
    So, migratory wild birds passing avian influeneza to domestic birds is of course within the realm of possibilities, but not likely.
    Consider this: In Minnesota and Iowa how many millions of domestic turkey and laying chickens, all raised inside bio-secure bird factories, became ill and were destroyed. How many outdoor hobby flocks in these two states were infected from migratory birds. Which type of flock do you think has a greater exposure to wild migratory birds flying over and infecting flocks with AI poop?
    Migratory birds are an easy excuse and even if wild birds are carriers, current biosecurity protocols are then woefully inadequate.

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