BC bird flu spreads bird management debate – Kimberley Daily Bulletin


Industrialized agriculture could be the main factor spreading bird flu, local farmers say (Kira Erickson/South Whidbey Record)

The second case of domestic bird flu in British Columbia has been confirmed in a small flock in the city of Kelowna, but it is unclear what the government considers a small flock.

JM Giroux, an Okanagan smallholder and administrator of the BC Poultry Group Facebook page, said the term “small herd” can be interpreted to mean many things and has no fixed definition.

BC egg considers small lot farms as growers with less than 399 hens. According to CFIA guidelines, “small flocks” are considered farms with up to 1,000 birds.

The provincial government has yet to release its small and large flock parameters, which means the “small flock” that has been infected could be made up of hundreds of birds.

The BC Ministry of Agriculture and CFIA were unavailable to comment on the definition of a “small herd” at the time of this writing.

“Numerous field studies have shown that backyard flocks are generally insignificant spreaders of bird flu,” Giroux said.

“What’s really at risk are large-scale laying hen farms,” ​​Giroux said.

Amanda Brittain, director of communications and marketing at BC Egg, said “the threat is real” for all birds, and warns farmers and producers with flocks of all sizes to be aware of the seriousness of the virus highly pathogenic.

Brittain said domestic birds, such as chickens, have an almost 100% mortality rate when infected, compared to wild birds which can transmit the disease without symptoms.

Giroux said birds from factory farms live in close quarters and generally have low genetic diversity because they come from the same parental stock. He explained that because of this, birds are prime candidates for infections from highly pathogenic viruses, such as H5N1.

Giroux alleges that the majority of transmission between large farms is due to sharing of equipment, contamination of trucks and workers wearing contaminated clothing working on multiple farms.

Brittain urges all growers, including those with backyard flocks, to implement biosecurity measures and protect their flocks from potential contamination.

Giroux said that although a recent sample from a bald eagle found in Delta tested positive for the same disease, wild birds are not the primary vector for the disease.

Conversely, Brittain said, “it comes from migrating birds.”

She said it is the government’s position that the spread of the highly pathogenic bird flu strain is mainly due to the droppings and nasal secretions of migrating birds.

The government has yet to release data describing the spread of virus outbreaks.

The ministry issued an order requiring that “all regulated commercial chicken and turkey operations, and commercial producers of ducks and geese (live and eggs) with 100 or more birds must maintain their operations at the interior”.

Brittain said even small producers on a wild bird flyway and those near an outbreak should move their flock inland.

Giroux said it’s not possible for backyard producers to move their flock indoors during the outbreak and instead suggests keeping flocks in a clean, low-stress environment with access to a variety of feeds. where they can be “as wild as can be”.

He pointed out that “forcing your poultry indoors for months can expose them to other sources of disease and infection. For many outside the control area, this seems like a simple solution, but they don’t understand the impact of poor indoor air quality and the mental stress on birds caused by confinement.

Brittain said if birds cannot be brought indoors, they should be kept in a covered enclosure and producers should diligently keep their flock away from wild bird droppings.

Giroux said he recognizes the highly pathogenic virus can spread quickly and said when a flock becomes infected the birds are culled to prevent further spread.

Giroux said he wanted to “promote backyard producers and reduce reliance on commercial layer farms.”

He said it would reduce the impact of disease on our food chain and improve the welfare of laying hens.

According to the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food, the CFIA and BC poultry producers, enhanced prevention and preparedness measures are in place and current outbreaks are being monitored for prevent the spread.

Brittain and Giroux said that in the past, strains of bird flu caused nearly 100% mortality in infected birds, with disastrous effects on commercial and small-scale breeders.

“I am in no way trying to downplay the seriousness of these highly pathogenic strains of avian influenza,” said Giroux, “Instead, our goal is to defuse the hysteria generated by press articles and public discussions. .”

Capital News has contacted the Department of Agriculture and will update this article if more information becomes available.

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