Preparing for Avian Influenza: USDA Conference

Avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, is a serious and very contagious virus that can affect both wild and domesticated birds. Birds can become infected when they have contact with contaminated surfaces, direct contact with infected birds, or when their water or feed is contaminated. Avian influenza can affect the whole poultry trade, so it is important to learn about the newest information in the poultry industry and to have a plan in place to protect our birds.

Brad Lillie, our Financial Officer, and I recently went to a conference in Baltimore, Maryland, co-hosted by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the U.S. poultry industry. Leaders in the poultry industry and the USDA presented the latest information on avian influenza and their plans for managing the spread of the virus.

Brad and I appreciated the chance to talk with other people in the industry and to represent our business. The USDA staff provided a lot of great information and were very supportive of what we do. They could ask us questions, and we then could tell them more about our business, particularly the gamebird industry. They learned more about our work and experiences and how they could help us. It is important that we have a good relationship with people in the state and federal poultry industry, and this time to talk with them was very valuable.

We have always followed strict biosecurity practices at MacFarlane Pheasants. At the conference, we learned that there may have been some things that were overlooked in other facilities that allowed viruses into them. Being aware of these “gaps” is important so that we can troubleshoot the practices in our own facilities. Our staff needs to be completely engaged in the process, too. Our goal is to be proactive with biosecurity by carefully watching the flow of birds in and out of our farm. We also want to continue with disease prevention measures, such as disinfecting our crates after every trip.

Avian influenza can hurt our business even if our birds are not infected. In the spring of 2015, problems with bird flu in other parts of the Wisconsin impacted us. If bird flu shows up in Wisconsin, other countries embargo our products even if our birds are fine. If farms in other states have avian influenza, we can not travel through those states with our birds.This makes it very difficult to get our birds to Canada. Exports are important to our business, and we want to be able to continue shipping to other countries. One idea is to get Wisconsin regionalized so that we could still ship our birds even if avian influenza is found in other parts of the state.

Our website has more detail about what MacFarlane Pheasants does to protect our birds from avian influenza:















Preparing for Avian Influenza: USDA Conference

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