Happy December everyone! Here in Minnesota we have just gotten done battling our first winter storm of the year, OK battle might be a bit strong, but we got some snow. Now when you think winter the idea of showing poultry doesn’t usually come to mind, but today the state of Minnesota decided that poultry will be able to be exhibited again at our local county fairs and state fair. This is a great gain in the poultry industry as last year there were no poultry exhibits at the fairs because of the break of Avian Influenza.
Now I’m very excited to hear that there will be chickens, ducks, and turkey’s shown at the county fairs again, but I think the poultry industry has some things to remember and learn from last year and years past. When I was working in Extension for Sibley County and attended a livestock seminar at the University of Minnesota I heard many horror stories from the outbreak. The biggest thing I learned was that if you see a problem, report it! The first sign of Avian Flu brought about insecure employees not knowing exactly what to do. Their first step should have been to contact their flock veterinarian and if the signs pointed to more than just a few sick birds, get help ASAP. There needs to be blood tests performed immediately and in some cases there needs to be effective testing done on the carcass of the birds. I know that this is not what farmers want to do, unnecessary death of birds, but to figure out the true culprit of what is making their flock sick, it may come to that.
I saw so many pictures and figures of birds that were killed by the Avian Influenza infection and only one word sums it up completely, sad. The number of birds lost to this disease brought about changes in ecosystems where there were mass burials and also brought about large amounts of labor needed to dispose of the bodies. The labor force that was brought in to dispose and clean the barns also had a tough time staying “clean” or keeping good bio security. When you bring in different people, staying at various hotels, all in a small town, it makes it very tough to keep vehicles “clean” and to not bring about disease transmission.
All of this cleanliness and bio security has to be in place at the fairs as well. When birds are brought for exhibition they need to be disease free and there should be no exceptions.
I’m a huge supporter of the poultry industry and exhibiting livestock, but it there needs to be guidelines in place for the industry so that we don’t have the same disaster we had in the spring/summer of 2015.
Kudos to the industry so far for keeping the barns and flocks clean! Let’s keep up that hard work and determination to provide healthy meat for our consumers, because in the end that’s what we’re here for, to provide and feed the world.