Avian Influenza Outbreak
Undoubtedly many of you have heard talk about all of the Avian Influenza outbreaks occurring around the Midwest. This is the largest outbreak ever recorded and states such as Iowa and Minnesota have been slammed with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). These two states are two of the largest turkey and chicken producers in the nation and that means that this outbreak will certainly affect all of our lives in one way shape or form; whether it is increased prices for eggs or higher cost for our “Thanksgiving” meal this fall. This epidemic is certainly worth keeping and eye on, and should really be thought through if you own, operate, train dogs, or hunt on game preserves where pheasants and ducks might be raised or sold for recreational opportunities.
In the state of Illinois, there are no regulations or laws holding game bird producers to set standards such as regularly testing for diseases such as Avian Influenza. In many situations, it is up to the owners, operators, and sole proprietors to hold themselves to higher standards and push the industry in the right direction even if legislation is falling behind.
I would bet that it is safe to say that many of our readers at least annually visit a hunting preserve that buys and releases pheasants for hunting purposes, I would also bet that many of you reading this post might be part of a dog trial circuit or have a friend that field trials dogs on a regular basis and many of these field trials utilize “hand reared” ducks, pheasants, or quail for dog training and field trial purposes. These organizations should be holding their producers to a higher standard. So are they?
Here are a few simple questions that can be asked of any game bird producer and if the answer is “No” or “I don’t know,” you should seriously consider finding another producer.
- Is this your full-time job?
- Do you regularly test for disease such as Avian Influenza?
- Are you a member of NAGA (North American Game Bird Association) or NPIP (National Poultry Improvement Plan)?
- Where do you send your samples to be tested? If they answer “In Illinois,” they should know that these tests are done at the Galesburg Animal Disease Laboratory.
- What Biosecurity measures do you implement to protect yourself from Disease outbreak?
This answer should be fairly in depth as any large scale producer would know. Biosecurity on any game bird production facility should be quite elaborate, and include but not be limited to, constant cleaning and disinfecting of clothing, shoes, and barns on the property. As well as yearly tilling, and managing of flight pen areas to reduce the amount of feces for the following year. Only authorized vehicles and personnel should be allowed on the premises. If they answer this question nonchalantly and vaguely, they are likely not holding themselves to the necessary standards that you should expect. If their lives and business revolve around this industry, they will take this quite seriously.