Pri­ori­tise bird wel­fare over cost

The Poultry Bulletin - - CONTENTS -

The lo­cal com­mer­cial poul­try in­dus­try is at risk of the H5N8 out­break turn­ing into a pan­demic with ma­jor fi­nan­cial and op­er­a­tional im­pli­ca­tions, says Gareth Lloyd-jones, chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer of the Ecow­ize Group, ex­plain­ing that avian in­fluenza is highly path­o­genic and can spread very quickly.

“While it does not in­fect or harm hu­mans, it presents a ma­jor com­mer­cial threat as the only way to con­tain the virus is to cull any birds that may have been ex­posed. In ad­di­tion to the num­ber of birds taken by the virus it­self, the nec­es­sary ac­tions to con­tain the virus will un­doubt­edly have a ma­jor im­pact on the poul­try as­so­ci­a­tion,” he says.

The De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture‚ Forestry and Fish­eries (DAFF) has noted that lo­cal cases have pre­sented the same strain but that the af­fected farms were not linked‚ mean­ing that each case re­sulted from sep­a­rate in­tro­duc­tions. The De­part­ment agreed to eu­th­a­nize the birds to­gether with the NSPCA.

Lloyd-jones high­lights that vac­ci­na­tion against Avian In­fluenza is il­le­gal as in­fected vac­ci­nated birds can con­tinue to spread the virus while their symp­toms are masked.

He says, “It is im­por­tant for poul­try own­ers and breed­ers to pre­vent con­tact→

be­tween their chick­ens and wild birds. Do not feed chick­ens out­side, let them roam free, or drink from open wa­ter sources. If in­fected, chick­ens will look sick, and be­cause the virus spreads so quickly, you will no­tice high num­bers of the flock dy­ing off.”

Lloyd-jones adds that if you sus­pect in­fec­tion, do not re­move the chicken, its eggs, bed­ding, ma­nure or any other tools from your premises.

“In­stead, do your best to quar­an­tine the in­fected bird from the flock and call for as­sis­tance,” he says, adding that own­ers should pri­ori­tise the wel­fare of the lo­cal bird pop­u­la­tion and the poul­try in­dus­try over any po­ten­tial costs of test­ing and that the De­part­ment will pay for sam­ples to rule out avian in­fluenza if sent to the ARCOVR through the State Vet of­fice.¡

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