If You Have ‘Backyard’ Chickens You Need To Know These Things!
It was in 2015 around 50 million turkeys died or were euthanized because of an outbreak of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in the United States. Minnesota alone lost about 9 million turkeys during the outbreak. Earlier this winter it was confirmed HPAI had been discovered in the southeastern United States. Then HPAI was found in Indiana, Iowa, and late last week in Wisconsin. This is making Minnesota chicken and turkey producers very uncomfortable! Migrating Waterfowl along with shorebirds are called natural hosts for the virus.
That means these birds will shed the virus many times without even showing any signs of the disease. So, migrating waterfowl can easily spread HPAI to your backyard flocks of chickens and turkeys. I remember growing up one of our neighbors raised turkeys outside during the summer. You would see ducks fly in and eat from the same feeders or drink from the same waters as the turkeys. It was a very easy way to spread disease.
That is why most poultry producers moved their flocks into barns along with being able to protect them from the weather. However, there are many backyard smaller flocks that are raised outside which makes them more vulnerable to HPAI. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health is asking all poultry producers to report any sick or dead birds by calling 320-231-5170. Early detection can prevent the further spread of the disease!
One of the first symptoms of HPAI is decreased water and food consumption along with nasal discharge and the birds being unusually quiet. If something looks unusual call the Minnesota Board of Animal Health or your local Veterinarian. We cannot prevent the migration of waterfowl but early detection can help control the spread of HPAI.
There are no food safety concerns because "infected birds do not reach the market. Infection risk normally only exists for people in direct contact with affected birds."