Alberta poultry industry invests in avian influenza research
By Canadian Poultry magazineNews Health
RDAR, poultry boards invest $733,000 to support research around biosecurity procedures, outbreak control measures.
Through the spring and fall of 2022, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus triggered the on-farm culling of over 1.4 million birds in Alberta.
A new research investment aims to reduce the impact of future HPAI outbreaks and is crucial to securing a safe food supply and a stable poultry industry in Alberta.
To support Alberta’s poultry industry, RDAR, Alberta Chicken Producers (ACP), and Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA) awarded $733,801 to avian virologist Dr. Faizal Careem, University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, to lead a vital HPAI research project.
The investment, including $633,801 from RDAR, will help define effective, science-driven biosecurity procedures, and outbreak control measures.
Careem’s research will target several areas for understanding the magnitude of the current HPAI outbreak in Alberta, including: identifying the route HPAI is introduced to poultry flocks; defining HPAI transmission risk in primary control zones in the period between diagnosis and depopulation; and determining the role that non-migratory birds might have in HPAI outbreaks.
The province’s poultry boards welcomed the news.
“On the heels of Alberta’s first outbreak of HPAI and the significant impact it had on our farming families and value chains, this project is vitally important to both the provincial poultry industry and Albertans,” says Stephen Scott, general manager, Egg Farmers of Alberta.
“The hope is that this project will further clarify and deepen the understanding of risk factors, so producers can invest in preventative actions based on scientific evidence while supporting the development of localized solutions to reduce the risk of future outbreaks.”
The chicken board expressed similar sentiment.
“The effects of HPAI have been profound across poultry sectors and many borders,” says Geoff Brown, Alberta Chicken Producer’s executive director.
“We are pleased to partner on this project to help us understand how HPAI is transmitted, allowing us to reduce its impact on farm viability, animal welfare, and our supply chain.”
Turkey producers were likewise excited.
“The Alberta turkey industry was devastated by HPAI in 2022,” says Cara Prout, executive director of Alberta Turkey Producers.
“Infections in commercial operations occurred in both the spring and fall, leaving little opportunity to re-grow production losses caused by birds ordered destroyed combined with the duration of time needed to complete the rigorous cleaning and disinfection process. Research projects supported by RDAR will help us gain a more robust understanding of the virus and will enable us to prepare our industry to mitigate risk effectively.”
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