Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)

ZIRNHELT: Be vigilant around your poultry stocks

David Zirnhelt’s column to the Free Press

There is an outbreak of highly contagious avian flu around the world which is now infecting flocks in Canada and B.C.’s North Okanagan.

So far, the only area affected by strict controls is the North Okanagan. The morning that I write this, I checked for updates to see if it is spreading in B.C.

AI, not Artificial Intelligence but Avian Influenza or bird flu, is being strictly controlled.

For a backgrounder go to this website: https://inspection.canada.ca/animal-health/terrestrial-animals/diseases/reportable/avian-influenza/fact-sheet/eng/1356193731667/ 1356193918453

On April 13, a General Order was released by the B.C. government appearing to cover all poultry producers large and small requiring stringent biosecurity measures.

Commercial producers who hold quotas to produce and market poultry are prepared and informed, by virtue of them being members of associations that provide them with advice.

Small scale producers who belong to the Small Scale Meat Processor Association (SCMPA) in B.C. have been served well by their organization.

Two days after this April 13 General Order was issued, the Order was amended to clarify that it did not apply to people who follow the Enhanced Biosecurity for Small-Scale Poultry Producers for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, a document provided to the Ministry of Agriculture on April 15.

This is good news, and it respects the studies performed for small-scale producers to be ready for an outbreak. This organization (SCMPA) did not even exist during the last major outbreak in B.C.

The SCMPA is doing its homework and applying science to inform its activities on behalf of its members and seeking appropriate exemptions from a General Order they feel doesn’t apply to them.

The amended order is available from the B.C. government website and has been publicized on the SCMPA Facebook page.

Wild populations of birds now migrating north into Canada can be carriers of this highly pathogenic AI H5N1. It can affect chickens, turkey, quails, guineas fowl, pets and wild birds.

There are other, less pathogenic strains of AI that are not a cause to panic. If a flock holder has unexplained deaths or serious illness, they are required by law to report to the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture or the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

If you are a producer and want your flock safe, follow the guidelines. Your family, your customers, and other small producers need you to be vigilant.


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