Protecting local flocks from the bird flu

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The bird flu is a deadly virus that has killed millions of chickens and turkeys across the United States. In Minnesota alone, 21 poultry flocks with more than a million birds have been affected so far. The virus is rapidly spreading west across Wisconsin and Michigan.

Now, farmers in the Northland are doing all they can to protect their flocks. "We have to make making sure the chickens are inside. We kinda built our business on the idea of chickens going outside, said Locally Laid Egg Company Farmer/Co-Owner Jason Amundsen. Because they want to be outside, they want to be on the grass, they want to be looking for bugs and worms and seeds, but we can’t let them out. Until the migratory bird season is over right around the 5th of May, we have to keep the chicken in."

This deadly disease infects chickens, turkeys, ducks, and wild birds, and it’s hard to control. The virus is a highly pathogenic strain, so it’s easily transmittable. “Traditional it has been focused on turkeys. This stain hits to be more transmitted to laying hens and chickens. So, it’s making things more difficult in our world,” says Amundsen.

Once a chicken has been infected with the bird flu, it starts displaying different symptoms such as droopy eyes and hardly any kind of appetite. The chances of the rest of the flock getting infected are high when one chicken is founded infected with the disease. "The danger is that if you don’t, then you run the risk of spreading it. So if a flock does come up positive for it, you have to put them down,” stated Amundsen.

As the virus continues to spread, it’s starting to impact prices and shelves at the grocery store. "We’re seeing is the virus has resulted in the depopulation of large chicken barns. That has affected the availability of what we call commodity eggs, Amundsen says. Those prices are doubling, and there are some shortages in basically all spectrum of eggs. So it has ripped through the economy indirect ways.”

One thing farmers and people who have backyard chickens, ducks, or turkeys, can do is not cross containment flocks, which reduces the risk of spreading the bird flu.