Health

March 30, 2017, University Park, PA — Poultry and animal disease experts in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences are urging commercial poultry producers to ramp up their vigilance and biosecurity in the wake of recent outbreaks of avian influenza in several states. In early March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) announced that a commercial flock of breeder chickens in Tennessee tested positive for highly pathogenic avian flu, or HPAI. Since then, USDA-APHIS has revealed another case of the same H7N9 virus at a second Tennessee farm, and Alabama agriculture officials announced an outbreak of suspected low-pathogenic avian flu affecting three premises in that state. In addition, low-pathogenic avian flu was reported in a Wisconsin turkey flock and a Kentucky broiler breeder flock, and routine surveillance has found the presence of low-pathogenic avian flu in wild waterfowl in various states. The pathogenicity of a virus refers to its ability to produce disease. Some H5 or H7 viruses have the capacity to mutate into "high-path" strains under certain conditions, according to Eva Wallner-Pendleton, senior research associate and avian pathologist in Penn State's Animal Diagnostic Laboratory. "Low-path AI viruses can go undiagnosed because they often produce very little illness or death," she said. "The time needed to mutate into high-path viruses varies considerably from weeks to months, or it can occur rapidly." Infection with North American strains of low-pathogenic avian flu is a common natural occurrence in wild birds, such as ducks and geese, which usually show few or no symptoms, Wallner-Pendleton explained. "But if these strains get into a poultry flock, they can mutate and become highly pathogenic, causing significant mortality," she said. She noted that poultry flocks infected with low-pathogenic H5 or H7 avian flu subtypes often will be culled to stop the spread of the virus and to keep it from becoming more virulent. The recent Tennessee outbreak occurred within the Mississippi flyway, which is one of four paths taken by wild birds when migrating in the spring and fall in North America. During the 2014-15 outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian flu that led to the loss of about 50 million turkeys and laying hens in the Midwest, the Atlantic flyway – which connects with the Mississippi flyway – was the only migratory flyway not affected. "In Tennessee, one of the affected poultry houses was near a pond, which may have attracted wild waterfowl," Wallner-Pendleton said. "In cool, wet weather, bird droppings can contain viable virus for a long time, and the pathogen can be spread to poultry flocks on people's shoes or on vehicle tires and so forth. So a key biosecurity recommendation is to prevent any contact between waterfowl and domestic poultry and to take steps to ensure that the virus is not introduced into a poultry house on clothing or equipment." Gregory Martin, a Penn State Extension poultry science educator based in Lancaster County, pointed out that state and federal agriculture officials are strongly urge producers to develop an HPAI flock plan and augment it with a comprehensive biosecurity plan. "These plans may be required for producers to receive indemnification for any losses resulting from an avian flu outbreak," he said. To assist producers in developing a biosecurity plan, Martin said, Penn State poultry scientists and veterinarians have developed a plan template that can be customized for various types of flocks.
March 28, 2017, Atlanta, GA – A flock of chickens at a commercial poultry breeding operation located in Chattooga County has tested positive for H7, presumptive low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI). This is the first confirmation of avian influenza in domestic poultry in Georgia. The virus was identified during routine pre-sale screening for the commercial facility and was confirmed as H7 avian influenza by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Ia. As a precaution, the affected flock has been depopulated. Officials are testing and monitoring other flocks within the surveillance area and no other flocks have tested positive or experienced any clinical signs. The announcement follows similar confirmations from Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee in recent weeks. The Georgia case is considered a presumptive low pathogenic avian influenza because the flock did not show any signs of illness. While LPAI is different from HPAI, control measures are under way as a precautionary measure. Wild birds are the source of the virus. Avian influenza virus strains often occur naturally in wild birds, and can infect wild migratory birds without causing illness. “Poultry is the top sector of our number one industry, agriculture, and we are committed to protecting the livelihoods of the many farm families that are dependent on it,” said Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary W. Black. “In order to successfully do that, it is imperative that we continue our efforts of extensive biosecurity.” The official order prohibiting poultry exhibitions and the assembling of poultry to be sold issued by the state veterinarian’s office on March 16, 2017, remains in effect. The order prohibits all poultry exhibitions, sales at regional and county fairs, festivals, swap meets, live bird markets, flea markets, and auctions. The order also prohibits the concentration, collection or assembly of poultry of all types, including wild waterfowl from one or more premises for purposes of sale. Shipments of eggs or baby chicks from National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP), Avian Influenza Clean, approved facilities are not affected by this order.
March 22, 2017, Frankfort, KY — Federal and state authorities say a case of low pathogenic avian influenza has been detected in a commercial poultry flock in western Kentucky. Kentucky State Veterinarian Robert C. Stout said the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the presence of H7N9 low pathogenic avian influenza in samples taken from the Christian County premises. The virus exposure at the premises was initially detected by the Murray State University Breathitt Veterinary Center in Hopkinsville while conducting a routine pre-slaughter test last week. Dr. Stout said there were no clinical signs of disease in the birds. The affected premises are under quarantine, and the flock of approximately 22,000 hens was depopulated as a precautionary measure, Dr. Stout said. “Dr. Stout and his staff have extensive experience and expertise in animal disease control and eradication,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “They have an excellent working relationship with the Kentucky Poultry Federation and the poultry industry. They are uniquely qualified to contain this outbreak so our domestic customers and international trading partners can remain confident in Kentucky poultry.” Low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) may cause no disease or mild illness. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) can cause severe disease with high mortality. The Office of the Kentucky State Veterinarian and its partners in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS) are conducting surveillance on flocks within a six-mile radius of the index farm, Dr. Stout said. The company that operates the farm is conducting additional surveillance testing on other commercial facilities it operates within that area.
March 15, 2017, Montgomery, AL — State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Frazier, in consultation with Commissioner John McMillan, has issued a stop movement order for certain poultry in Alabama. “The health of poultry is critically important at this time,” said Dr. Frazier. “With three investigations of avian influenza in north Alabama on three separate premises we feel that the stop movement order is the most effective way to implement biosecurity for all poultry in our state.” The first two investigations were on two separate premises in north Alabama. One flock of chickens at a commercial breeder operation located in Lauderdale County, Ala. was found to be suspect for avian influenza. No significant mortality in the flock was reported. The other premise was a backyard flock in Madison County, Ala. Samples from both premises have been sent to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, and are being tested to determine presence of the virus. The most recent investigation began following routine surveillance while executing Alabama’s HPAI Preparedness and Response Plan. USDA poultry technicians collected samples at the TaCo-Bet Trade Day flea market in Scottsboro located in Jackson County, Ala. on March 12. Samples collected were suspect and those samples are on the way to the USDA lab in Ames, Iowa. USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) on a joint incident response. This suspected strain of avian influenza does not pose a risk to the food supply. No affected poultry entered the food chain. The risk of human infection with avian influenza during poultry outbreaks is very low. “Following the 2015 avian influenza outbreak in the Midwest, planning, preparation, and extensive biosecurity efforts were escalated in Alabama. Industry, growers, state and federal agencies and other stakeholders have worked hard to maintain a level of readiness,” said Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan. “Our staff is committed to staying actively involved in the avian influenza situation until any threats are addressed.”
The objective in vaccinating chickens against Campylobacter is to reduce intestinal colonization and contamination of chicken meat products. Existing experimental vaccines are not able to induce a sufficiently strong immune response, and provide no or little of protection against Campylobacter colonization. There is no commercially available vaccine against Campylobacter for chickens despite many attempts to develop one. A collaborative project between the laboratories of Prof. Shayan Sharif and Prof. Mario Monterio from the University of Guelph was initiated to try to develop an effective vaccine against Campylobacter in chickens. A prototype vaccine consisting of capsular carbohydrates of C. jejuni conjugated with a carrier (CPSconj) developed by Prof. Monterio, formed the basis of the vaccine development in the current study.  Prof. Mopnterios’ CPSconj carrier has previously shown efficacy in a primate model. The efficacy of vaccination for reducing C. jejuni colonization of chicken intestinal tissues was assessed. Three administered doses of the prepared CPSconj vaccine resulted in a detectable antibody response in 75 per cent of specific pathogen free birds.  Whereas vaccination of commercial broiler chicks resulted in a detectable antibody response in 33 per cent of orally challenged birds.  Overall, the in vivo findings show CPSconj vaccinated birds had significantly lower numbers of C. jejuni in intestinal tissue when compared to non-vaccinated birds.   The study went on to identify an immune response enhancer which is termed an “adjuvant”, with the specific capacity to induce immune responses in cells of the chicken intestine for inclusion in the prototype vaccine or as a stand-alone prophylactic compound.  In vitro studies demonstrated that adjuvant CpG-ODN elicited the highest activation of cell signaling molecules prevalent in immune responses and was therefore selected as the optimum mucosal vaccine adjuvant.  To target the selected adjuvant to the intestine of chickens and ensure slow release of the adjuvant at the site of infection, a delivery system based on encapsulating the adjuvant into specific nanoparticles was employed.  Results demonstrated that CpG-ODN administration reduced bacterial burden in the intestine and encapsulation of the CpG-ODN resulted in a greater decrease of bacterial burden in the chicken intestine. Overall, Dr. Sharif and his research team have demonstrated that it is possible to employ a subunit vaccine for reducing Campylobacter jejuni in chickens.  Additionally, the research team has provided evidence for CpG-ODN as a stand-alone anti-bacterial prophylactic strategy.    Dr. Sharif and his research team will continue to explore better ways for control of Campylobacter jejuni  through the use of vaccines, immune stimulants and probiotics.
September 1, 2016 - The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H5N2 avian influenza (HPAI) in a wild mallard duck from a state wildlife refuge near Fairbanks, Alaska. READ MORE
August 18, 2017 - Perches are a necessity in cage-free housing systems, but changing them may be necessary, too.As cage-free egg farming is expanded around the world, some in the field are asking if the current round, metal tube perch design is the best for bird performance and welfare. On the welfare side, perches fulfill the hen’s natural desire to perch and give less dominant birds a way to escape more aggressive ones. From a management standpoint, including perches reduces aggressive behaviors and gives the farmer more usable space inside the layer house.At the Egg Industry Center’s Egg Industry Issues Forum, the attendees asked whether the perch is as beneficial as it can be for the hen and the farmer, and discussed innovations that could improve the devices. The conference took place April 19 and 20, in Columbus, Ohio. READ MORE
August 3, 2017, Brussels, Belgium – The European Union says a pesticide-contaminated egg scare in some EU countries is under control.Dozens of farms were being checked in the Netherlands, and Belgium's food safety agency was probing how the anti-tick and flea pesticide Fipronil might have entered eggs destined for supermarkets. Fipronil is banned in products for treating animals like chickens that are part of the human food chain.European Commission spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said Thursday that ''the eggs are blocked. The contaminated eggs have been traced and withdrawn from the market and the situation is under control.''Belgian food authorities say suspect eggs have been destroyed and there is no danger to public health given the small amounts of the pesticide that might have entered any eggs that reached the market.
August 3, 2017, Shoreview, Minn. - There’s nothing like a complete, balanced layer feed. But what happens after your chickens are finished pecking away at the feeder?“Few of us consider the events after we bring a bag of chicken feed home; we just know our birds like us to keep the feeder full,” says Patrick Biggs, Ph.D., a flock nutritionist with Purina Animal Nutrition. “Have you ever thought about what happens between when a hen eats at the feeder and when she lays an egg 24 to 26 hours later?”To help answer this question, Biggs recently discussed bird anatomy with two bloggers: The Chicken Chick, Kathy Shea Mormino, and The Garden Fairy, Julie Harrison. During a tour of the Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Mo., he explained once a crumble or pellet is consumed by a bird, it travels through a unique pathway for digestion with each ingredient serving a specific purpose.“Chickens are excellent converters of feed, channeling those nutrients directly into their eggs,” says Biggs. “Laying hens need 38 different nutrients to stay healthy and produce eggs. Think of a complete chicken feed as a casserole - it’s a mixture of ingredients where each part adds up to a perfectly balanced whole. Each ingredient is the digested by the hen, with many of them working together for bird health and egg production.”Ready to find out where chicken feed goes once eaten? Follow the journey beyond the feeder:Eating on the goWhile chickens need to eat to stay healthy just as people do, a bird’s digestive anatomy is quite different than ours.“Chickens don’t have teeth and they are a prey animal, so they can’t waste much time chewing,” explains Biggs. “Instead, they swallow food quickly and store it away. The crop, a pouch-like organ meant solely for storage, is the first pit stop feed will encounter.”Within the crop, very little digestion occurs. Feed will combine with water and some good bacteria to soften food particles before moving through the system. The feed in the crop will be released to the rest of the digestive tract throughout the day.The chicken stomachThe next stop in the feed journey is the proventriculus, which is equivalent to the human stomach. This is where digestion really begins in the bird. Stomach acid combines with pepsin, a digestive enzyme, to start the breakdown of feed into smaller pieces.“For birds, feed doesn’t spend much time in the proventriculus,” Biggs says. “Instead, it quickly moves to the gizzard where the real fun begins. The gizzard is the engine of the digestive system - it’s a muscle meant for grinding food particles. Since chickens lack teeth, they need a different method of mechanically digesting food. Historically, this is where grit would play a big role; however, many of today’s complete layer feeds include the necessary nutrients without a need for grit.”Absorbing the magicNutrients are then absorbed through the small intestine and passed into the bloodstream. These absorbed nutrients are used for building feathers, bones, eggs and more. Many of these essential nutrients must be provided through the diet.“For example, methionine is an essential amino acid, that must be provided through the diet,” explains Biggs. “Like all amino acids, methionine comes from protein sources and is needed at the cellular level to build specific proteins used for feathering, growth, reproduction and egg production.”This is also where calcium and other minerals are absorbed into the blood stream to be stored for bone strength and shell production.Building an egg“In addition to absorbing nutrients to stay healthy, hens also channel feed nutrients directly into their eggs,” says Biggs.The yolk is formed first. The yolk color comes from fat-soluble pigments, called xanthophylls, which are found in a hen's diet. Hens may direct marigold extract from the feed to create vibrant orange yolks and omega-3 fatty acids to produce more nutritious eggs.Next, the shell is formed around the contents of the egg in the shell gland. This is where shell color is created. Most shells start white and then color is added. Breeds like Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, Marans, Ameraucanas or Easter Eggers, will apply pigments to transform white eggs to brown, blue or green.No matter the shell color, calcium is essential at this stage. Calcium travels to the shell gland via the bloodstream. Hens channel calcium first into their eggs and then into their bones. If a hen doesn’t have enough calcium, she will still form the eggshell but her bone strength may suffer which could lead to osteoporosis.“There are two types of calcium chickens need: fast release and slow release,” Biggs explains. “Fast release calcium is found in most layer feeds and breaks down quickly. This quick release is important for bird health, but can leave a void after hens have eaten and are forming eggs at night.”“Slow release calcium breaks down over time so hens can channel the calcium when they need it most for shell development,” continues Biggs. 
April 25, 2017, Columbus, OH - Keel bone health is increasingly seen as an animal welfare metric in alternative housing systems. A new research study shows the majority of keel bone damage originates from collisions with perches inside the layer house.Dr. Maja Makagon, assistant professor of applied animal behavior at University of California, Davis’ Department of Animal Science, discussed the results of a study conducted to analyze keel bone damage in a layer environment. Makagon, who spoke on April 19 as part of the Egg Industry Center Egg Industry Issues Forum in Columbus, Ohio, said the study utilized accelerometers and 3D imaging technology to study the force of the collisions and measure their effects on the keel bone.The keel is an extension of the sternum that provides an anchor for the bird’s wing muscles and provides leverage for flight. As laying hens are being removed from a conventional cage environment, Makagon said, keel integrity is increasingly seen as an indicator of animal welfare. Damaged keels are associated with increased mortality, reduced egg production and egg quality, and keel damage is likely associated with pain for the animal. READ MORE
Canadian egg farmers have a new opportunity to offer healthy eggs high in omega-3 to nutrition-focused consumers thanks to a recent decision by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
Egg shell quality is extremely important to table egg producers.  Egg shell quality has a direct impact on profitability because any broken, cracked, or misshapen eggs will result in a loss to the producer.  Some of the factors that influence egg shell quality include: nutrition, feed management, stress, the age of the hens, and mechanical equipment.  Understanding these factors that affect shell quality will have a positive impact on your bottom line.NutritionNutrition plays a significant role in minimizing cracks within the flock.  A properly balanced feed will give the laying hen the nutrients she requires to produce an egg a day, along with the shell needed to protect that egg.  The three main nutrients that nutritionists typically take into consideration when shell quality problems arise are calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D3.  These three nutrients each play a crucial role in shell formation.  The calcium status of a laying hen is very important because the hen must consume enough calcium to lay down an egg shell each day, as well as supporting her health and wellbeing.  In addition to this, she must replenish the calcium stores within the body so calcium is available for use the next day.  The calcium required to create the shell is obtained from two different forms, the medullary bone reserves and directly from the feed she consumes.  Medullary bone reserves of calcium are located within the long bones of the body and the hen is able to mobilize these reserves to supply part of the calcium required to produce the egg shell every day.  The remaining calcium required for the egg shell is obtained from dietary calcium comes from the digestive tract and is directly absorbed into the bloodstream.  A deficiency in calcium will cause an immediate decrease in shell quality and if prolonged, the medullary bone reserves can become depleted.  A hen in this state will begin to suffer a deterioration in egg shell quality, mobility problems, and soft bones.  Phosphorus is also important as it plays a key role in the storage of calcium in the medullary bone reserves.  Calcium is stored in these reserves as calcium phosphate, and for that reason phosphorus must be available in order for these reserves to be replenished.  Finally, vitamin D3 plays an important role in egg shell quality because it promotes calcium absorption from the digestive tract into the blood stream of the bird.  Once absorbed, the calcium is available to become part of medullary bone reserves to be laid down as part of the shell or for maintenance calcium requirements used to maintain the existing skeletal frame of the hen.  Additional calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D3.   can be added to the diet when egg shell quality issues arise on farm, however this should be done in close consultation with your nutritionist as any imbalances in these nutrients can cause further deterioration to egg shell quality.   While additional nutrients may help solve the problem, nutrition cannot be looked at in isolation as many factors contribute to these situations.  For example, if the hen is not consuming enough feed, changes need to be made in the barn to encourage this consumption.  Because shell quality issues are typically complex and have many contributing factors, nutritionists will focus on balancing the nutrition, while also considering environmental issues that may be contributing to the problem. It takes approximately twenty-one hours for the shell to be laid on the egg and a significant portion of this high calcium demand takes place when the lights are off.  Consequently, feed management plays a key role in maintaining shell quality.  It is important to make sure that the feeders are being run close to when the lights go off in the barn to ensure the hen is able to consume adequate calcium to support egg shell formation through the dark period.  In addition to the importance of feed timing, the form of calcium being provided in that feed can impact the ability of the hen to create a high quality egg shell.  Providing large particle calcium as a portion of the calcium in the feed will give the hen a source of calcium that is retained for a longer period of time.  This is because large particle calcium is less soluble than fine particle and will remain in the gizzard longer, making it available during the dark period when the bird is not consuming feed.  Research has proven that the hen also has a specific appetite for calcium and her appetite changes throughout the day.  By providing a portion of calcium as large particle calcium, the hen is able to selectively regulate her calcium intake throughout the day as her appetite for calcium changes.  In the late afternoon, when the demand for calcium is highest in the hen, having large particle calcium available allows her to choose to increase calcium consumption to meet her needs.  StressStress is known to cause disruption to the egg formation process which can lead to misshapen eggs, wrinkled and thin shells, as well as discoloured shells in brown egg strains.   Stresses in the barn can come in many forms, including disease, heat stress, excessive and sudden noises, mismanagement or failure of lighting programs, poor barn environment, and aggression from other birds.  These types of stresses can cause a disruption to the egg formation process because they will cause the hen to either hold on to her egg or lay the egg too soon.  Because stress influences the timing of the egg being laid, there can be an ongoing effect in the following days as the sequence of eggs has been disrupted and it takes time to get this corrected within the hen’s body.  Taking the time to observe what is happening in your barn will help you in the long run.  This includes ensuring the inlets and fans are providing adequate air flow, double checking that the lights are going on and off at the times they are set for, and observing bird behavior to look for signs of disease or aggression.  Solving these problems as soon as possible by changing fan settings, adjusting lighting schedules, dimming lights to control aggression, and contacting a vet if a disease is suspected will minimize stressors in your barn and have a positive impact on egg shell quality.Bird ageThe incidence of cracks is also affected by the age of the bird.  When the hens are young and first coming into production, there can be some thin or shell-less eggs.  This could be caused by the immaturity of the reproductive tract.  Typically this only happens to one or two eggs before the reproductive tract begins to function correctly.  The incidence of thin shells can increase as birds get older because the eggs become larger.  As eggs get larger, the amount of shell material being contributed to each egg remains virtually the same. Consequently, the shell has more surface area to cover, which may lead to thinner shells that are more prone to cracks.  Using management and nutrition tools to manage the egg size within the flock will help minimize the increase in cracks as the flock ages.  This includes working with nutritionists to review the diets to ensure that the nutrients are being fed at the appropriate levels for the age of hen, stage of production, and egg size.  This will help prolong eggs in the large category, rather than encouraging an increase in egg size.EquipmentEgg collecting equipment such as egg belts, transfer points, escalators, packers, and egg saver wires can also contribute to cracks in the barn.  Any aspect of these systems that contributes to the rough handling of eggs as they move through the system can increase the incidence of cracks.  Being diligent in inspecting and reviewing the equipment, as well as the frequency of egg collection, on a regular basis will help to minimize cracks being caused by mechanical damage.  A regular routine can be established by ensuring maintenance logs are kept with details of problems found and how they were fixed, as well as posting a regular maintenance schedule that all employees have access to.  While it is impossible to completely eliminate all egg shell quality issues within a laying hen flock, a reduction in the numbers of eggs lost over time is possible.  Working closely with your nutritionist to use nutritional strategies is one option to maintaining optimum shell quality. Managing the many factors within your barn that can contribute to decreased shell quality, such as feed management, stress, and egg collection equipment, will also have a positive influence on shell quality.  Combining good management practices with respect to barn environment, and management as well as building a strong relationship with a nutritionist will optimize your chances of decreasing the number of damaged eggs being produced, which means a healthier flock and more money in your pocket.
March 8, 2017, Barron, WI – A low-pathogenic bird flu strain has been detected in a Jennie-O Turkey Store operation in Barron, Wis., marking the second bird flu case in a U.S. commercial operation this week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture posted notice of the Barron County case to the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health's website March 7. Hormel Foods, which owns Wilmar-based Jennie-O, confirmed the H5N2 strain was detected March 4 at its Barron operation. The USDA report said 84,000 birds are at the farm. READ MORE
Over one hundred years ago the wild turkey was a familiar sight in North America. Unregulated hunting and habitat loss decimated their population in Ontario but that has since changed. In 1986, approximately 4,400 wild turkeys were re-introduced, and according to Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs figures from 2007, that population has reached over 70,000 and continues to grow.
July 10, 2016 - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has set up a quarantine zone after low-path H5N2 avian influenza was detected in southern Ontario. The CFIA says a quarantine zone covering a three-kilometre radius has been placed near St. Catharines. The agency says bird flu hasn't been detected anywhere else in the quarantine zone, but officials say they're monitoring for any spread of the disease.  Currently 23 premises are quarantined, however only one commercial/regulated broiler chicken farm is in within the quarantine zone besides the AI positive duck flock. The other quarantined premises are small and/or unregulated flocks.   Trace out to three other high risk contact flocks (from the positive farm) has been completed and those flocks have tested negative.    The Feather Board Command Centre have asked Ontario poultry industry stakeholders to use heightened biosecurity measures if it is necessary to enter into this area. Heightened biosecurity measures include (but are not limited to): • wearing boots, protection suits, hats and gloves/hand washing; • ensuring that all deliveries/loading should be the last on the route; and • washing and disinfecting the truck’s undercarriage and steps before proceeding with any other delivery/loading. Should you become aware of health concerns in a flock(s), please advise the farmer to contact a veterinarian, as well as their Board or call 1-877-SOS-BYRD. 
  Board of Directors ChangesCPRC held its Annual General Meeting in March followed by a meeting of the board of directors. Two new directors joined the board replacing long-time directors who had decided to step down. Roelof Meijer, an eight-year board member representing Turkey Farmers of Canada (TFC) and chair for the past three years, was replaced by Brian Ricker from Ontario.  Cheryl Firby, the Canadian Hatching Egg Producers (CHEP) board member has been replaced by Murray Klassen from Manitoba. Tim Keet (Chicken Farmers of Canada) was elected chair with Helen Anne Hudson (Egg Farmers of Canada) elected vice-chair. Erica Charlton (Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council) was elected as a member of the executive committee along with the chair and vice-chair. Poultry Science ClusterThe Poultry Science Cluster, co-funded between industry, provincial governments and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has completed year three of its five-year research plan.  The cluster, the second that CPRC has administered, is a $5.6 million program with $4 million from AAFC and the balance from industry and provincial governments.  Seventeen research projects in four categories make up the cluster, details of which can be found at www.cp-rc.ca/poultry-science-cluster-2/. The Poultry Science Cluster runs from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2018 and some research projects are being completed. Two projects were scheduled to be completed by March 31, 2016, and are winding up with final analysis and reporting underway. Ten projects are scheduled to be complete by the end of March 2017 with the final five projects being completed by the end of the cluster in March 2018. Poultry Research Strategy UpdateCPRC has begun a process to update the 2012 document National Research Strategy for Canada’s Poultry Sector, which formed the basis for much of the research structure of the Poultry Science Cluster. While much of the strategy remains relevant many of the research priorities identified have evolved and new issues have become important to the poultry industry. Two new priority areas, climate change impacts and precision agriculture, were added to this year’s CPRC call for Letters of Intent. The strategy update is designed to validate and/or amend priorities from the 2012 document and to identify new priority areas since 2012. Issues that may be on the horizon but have not yet become poultry research initiatives will also be identified. The update will seek input from producers through the national and provincial representative organizations, scientific community including university and government, and other industry stakeholder organizations representing a broad range of value-chain members. Consultations will include surveys and webinars to gather information as well as to seek feedback on the updated strategy as it is developed. Target completion of the research strategy is early in 2017 so it can be used as the basis for a new application if a third science cluster program is included in the next federal-provincial agreement upon the expiry of the current Growing Forward 2 initiative. New CPRC WebsiteThe April CPRC Update announced that CPRC has a new website. Changing a website is a lot more than having someone do a new design. All of the material on the website has to be reviewed and decisions made on what should stay, what should go and new material that should be added. An important part of the CPRC website is the research summaries that are posted on all CPRC co-funded projects. A review of those summaries indicated that there were several formats being used, particularly during the last several years, and some project summaries had been missed. A format was adopted, very similar to one of those that had been used, and CPRC has reviewed all summaries, and edited them as necessary, to ensure consistency in presentation. CPRC, its board of directors and member organizations are committed to supporting and enhancing Canada’s poultry sector through research and related activities. For more details on these or any other CPRC activities, please contact The Canadian Poultry Research Council, 350 Sparks Street, Suite 1007, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 7S8, phone: (613) 566-5916, fax: (613) 241-5999, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit us at www.cp-rc.ca.   The membership of the CPRC consists of Chicken Farmers of Canada, Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, Turkey Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors’ Council. CPRC’s mission is to address its members’ needs through dynamic leadership in the creation and implementation of programs for poultry research in Canada, which may also include societal concerns.        
  FUNDING THE PROGRAM CHANGESCPRC adjusted its funding program for the 2016 call for Letters of Intent (LOI) to fit better into the annual funding timeframe.  Government funding organizations generally look for industry financial support to show that the proposed research is an industry priority.  Some funders, such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), require industry funding approval prior to application. Others will accept an application prior to industry funding commitments but will not provide final approval until industry support is confirmed.  CPRC moved its call for 2016 LOIs to mid-December with a submission date in early February so that it can complete its review process and issue funding decisions by the end of June. CPRC uses a two-step review and approval process. The first step is an internal review by the CPRC Board of Directors and its support staff to determine the level of support for a research proposal by the member organizations. The review assesses the proposal’s importance to industry and how well it aligns with priorities identified in the 2012 National Research Strategy for Canada’s Poultry Sector as well as new priorities identified by CPRC and its member organizations (e.g.: climate change, precision agriculture).  A short list of projects is developed to move on to the next part of the process. The second step is to complete peer reviews conducted by research scientists of the short-listed projects, which looks more at technical aspects of the project and the validity of the research (e.g.: duplication of prior research, methodology).  The peer reviews provide valuable input to CPRC’s final decisions on the projects that will be funded.  The final funding decision will be made at CPRC’s June Board of Directors meeting.  CPRC received 28 LOIs in the 2016 call. 2015 CPRC SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTThe 2015 CPRC Scholarship was awarded to Sasha van der Klein, a PhD student under the supervision of Dr. Martin Zuidhof, University of Alberta. Sasha completed her M. Sc. at the University of Wageningen in 2015 in the areas of immunology, genetics and nutrition. She published one and co-authored another paper following from her thesis in genetics, about the relationship between production traits and immunology in laying hens. Sasha’s research at the University of Alberta will look at broiler breeder management strategies. Her objective will be to better understand the long term effects of broiler breeder rearing strategies on production and the effects on offspring performance. The focus will be on lighting and body weight management. She will also conduct research on understanding the mechanisms of transgenerational effects of nutrition. In her studies she will use the Precision Broiler Breeder Feeding System, developed by Dr. Zuidhof, which can control individual bird feed intake using real-time body weight measurements to make feed allocation decisions. CPRC has redesigned its website (www.cp-rc.ca) to take advantage of developments in website design and management.  The redesigned website was activated in March and includes the same content as the previous website but packaged in a more concise format. It is also designed for use on a cell phone.  Please check out the new website and let us know what you think ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). REDESIGNED CPRC WEBSITECPRC, its Board of Directors and member organizations are committed to supporting and enhancing Canada’s poultry sector through research and related activities.  For more details on these or any other CPRC activities, please contact The Canadian Poultry Research Council, 350 Sparks Street, Suite 1007, Ottawa, Ontario, K1R 7S8, phone: (613) 566-5916, fax: (613) 241-5999, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit us at www.cp-rc.ca. The membership of the CPRC consists of Chicken Farmers of Canada, Canadian Hatching Egg Producers, Turkey Farmers of Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada and the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors’ Council. CPRC’s mission is to address its members’ needs through dynamic leadership in the creation and implementation of programs for poultry research in Canada, which may also include societal concerns.        
January 15, 2016 - Highly pathogenic H7N8 avian influenza (HPAI) was confimed in a commercial gturkey flock in Dubois County, Indiana today by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.  This is a different strain of HPAI than the strain that caused the 2015 outbreak. Samples from the turkey flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University, which is a part of USDA's National Animal Health Laboratory Network, and confirmed by USDA this morning. APHIS is working closely with the Indiana State Board of Animal Health on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises and depopulation of birds on the premises has already begun. As part of existing avian influenza response plans, Federal and State partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area.    
March 16, 2017 – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed a second case of highly pathogenic H7N9 avian influenza in a commercial breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tenn. This H7N9 strain is of North American wild bird lineage and is the same strain of avian influenza that was previously confirmed in Tennessee. It is not the same as the China H7N9 virus that has impacted poultry and infected humans in Asia. The flock of 55,000 chickens is located in the Mississippi flyway, within three kilometers of the first Tennessee case. Samples from the affected flock, which displayed signs of illness and experienced increased mortality, were tested at Tennessee’s Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. The USDA is working with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on the joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises, and depopulation has begun. Federal and state partners will conduct surveillance and testing of commercial and backyard poultry within a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of the site. The USDA will be informing the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as well as international trading partners of this finding. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is working directly with poultry workers at the affected facilities to ensure that they are taking the proper precautions to prevent illness and contain disease spread.
March 6, 2017, Washington, DC – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza (HPAI) of North American wild bird lineage in a commercial chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tenn. This is the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the U.S. this year. The flock of 73,500 is located within the Mississippi flyway. Samples from the affected flock, which experienced increased mortality, were tested at Tennessee’s Kord Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory and confirmed at the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa. Virus isolation is ongoing, and NVSL expects to characterize the neuraminidase protein, or “N-type”, of the virus within 48 hours. APHIS is working closely with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on a joint incident response. State officials quarantined the affected premises and birds on the property will be depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure that they are taking the proper precautions to prevent illness and contain disease spread. As part of existing avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area. The U.S. has a strong AI surveillance program and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory wild bird populations. The USDA will be informing the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as well as international trading partners of this finding. The USDA also continues to communicate with trading partners to encourage adherence to OIE standards and minimize trade impacts. OIE trade guidelines call on countries to base trade restrictions on sound science and, whenever possible, limit restrictions to those animals and animal products within a defined region that pose a risk of spreading disease of concern. Additional information on biosecurity for can be found at www.aphis.usda.gov/animalhealth/defendtheflock .
Forecasting how many broiler breeders we need to supply customer orders is a critical part of an efficient, profitable business.  So is being able to take full advantage of the genetic potential of today’s breeds. One critical part of the process, converting hatching eggs to chicks, is vitally important and some practical steps to help accomplish this can be quite helpful.  There are three things to focus on: egg quality, effective hatchery management and chick quality. Egg quality The first stage is monitoring the quality of the egg pack coming into the hatchery and maintaining this quality before incubation. But what is allowed into the hatchery?   Be sure to evaluate the egg pack for size, dirt, cracks, deformities, double yolks, inverted placement and uniformity. Standards within hatcheries should be made to ensure consistent quality and all departments must follow it.  All these criteria, if not measured against standards, can negatively impact results.   In addition, egg quality can also be influenced by:   Size – a chick’s weight is usually 67- 68 per cent of its original egg weight (multistage incubation), so a small egg results in a small chick.  Chicks below the minimum size will dehydrate very rapidly after hatch.   Dirty eggs – can result in severe bacterial contamination, which could result in eggs exploding at transfer or omphalitis in baby chicks. Cracked eggs – do not hatch, but eggs with micro-cracks will hatch around 50 per cent of the expected rate and all chicks that hatch will be culls.   Deformed eggs – can cause the chicks to mal-position, which in turn reduces hatch and chick quality.   Double yolks – should be culled.   Inverted eggs – will hatch approximately 40 per cent of the expected rate and the chicks produced will be culls. Uniformity of air flow – if present throughout the incubators, the hatch window decreases and will allow for a much more efficient pull time.   Next, a good egg holding program should be implemented from the farm to the incubator.  The temperature of an egg at lay is approximately 40oC  (104oF).   From there, egg temperatures should decrease and increase following a perfect ‘V’ pattern, with the lowest temperatures occurring at the hatchery.  Starting on the farm at 40oC (104oF), the egg temperatures may fall to typically 20oC (68oF) in the hatchery, and then rise again to incubation at 37.6oC (99.7oF).  It is extremely important that egg temperatures do not fluctuate away from the V-shaped pattern.   Temperature fluctuations will cause embryonic mortality and loss of hatch.  The temperature is all the egg holding areas must be monitored – the breeder house, breeder house egg room, transportation to the hatchery, hatchery egg storage and pre-warming. Effective hatchery management There are four important programs to use in a hatchery: quality assurance, set-transfer-to-pull, sanitation and preventive maintenance. A quality assurance program consists of egg assessment as already described, embryo diagnosis and chick quality assessment.  Monitoring these three components correctly is a hatchery manager’s most valuable tool. Egg assessment can tell what is going into our incubators, embryo diagnosis will troubleshoot hatch problems and chick quality assessment will determine how well incubation and hatchery programs are working via examinations of percentages of hatch, fertility and hatch of fertile.  This will enable us to diagnose problems and effect solutions.   Additionally, when performing an embryo diagnosis, it is important to be accurate and consistent so the results can be used as an information tool.  This can identify certain problem incubators or rooms, and certain days when issues occur. Set-transfer-to-pull Our target is 504 hours of incubation — exactly 21 days. As an example, if the eggs are set at 5:00 am, then they should be ready to pull 21 days later at 5:00 am.  If we are under or over this target, then we have problems during incubation.   The hatch window should be targeted at 33 hours or less (multistage) from first to last chick.  The shorter the hatch window, the better the chick quality will be. Transfer should take place between set and pull, where eggs are taken out of the setter and the egg flat and put into the hatcher and hatcher trays, and be smooth and efficient. Eggs should not be left out for a prolonged length of time.  Additionally, extreme care should be taken to prevent cracked eggs, which are especially important when moving eggs into the hatcher. Changing set time, transfer time or pull time will affect the baby chick.  Be careful before altering this plan — know the cause and effect before making a change, since eggs cannot be set on a random schedule.  Rather, strict programs must be implemented and followed to maintain quality and control. Sanitation Hatcheries should be cleaned and disinfected continuously.  The most important task is removing all organic material before disinfecting, which can hide in corners, under racks, on wheels and in any crack or crevice in a setter or hatcher.  All material has to be removed; otherwise the presence of organic material will reduce the efficacy of disinfectant products to sanitize the surface area. Be sure to use disinfection products effective against the challenge specific to the hatchery.  A sensitivity test can be performed at your own or a local laboratory to identify the products, which are most effective against your specific bacteria or mold challenge. Good air quality is also one of the best disinfectants available.  It is important to ventilate and pressurize the hatchery correctly, which not only satisfies the oxygen requirements of embryos and chicks, but also prevents cross contamination. Remember, too, that transport vehicles, which handle eggs or chicks, need to be part of the hatchery sanitation program. Preventive maintenance There are three kinds of maintenance: predictive, preventive and reactive. Reactive maintenance costs more than preventive maintenance, which costs more than predictive.   Since incubators run continuously, an incubator simply cannot be allowed to fail.  If it does, it can be repaired, but all embryos in the incubator will have been affected. Therefore, programs should be in place to ensure incubator failures do not happen. Predictive maintenance can be, and often is, overlooked, but it can be very useful, as it can tell from the lifespan of a piece of equipment or component when it should be replaced. Preventive maintenance  — a great tool for budgeting — depends on checklists for the incubator and hatchery equipment and, if followed correctly, costly breakdowns can be minimized.   In all hatchery areas, temperature, humidity and pressure should also be monitored and calibrated for consistency at all times so incubators and ventilators can cycle properly. Chick quality While seven-day mortality is generally a good measure of chick quality, it is a lagging indicator.  Often, when we hear of high seven-day mortality, the first action is to go back into the hatchery and retrace programs and procedures, but that is too late. A chick quality assessment in the hatchery needs to be in place beforehand to ensure good chick quality going to the farm.   It is also important to score chicks before they leave the hatchery.  Evaluate red hocks, navels (open unhealed navels), heat buttons (navel has closed before the yolk was fully absorbed) and dehydration.  There are different scoring systems that can provide a great tool for assessing different incubators if done correctly, and will show when a trend line starts to go negative.  Besides, it also provides another indicator for how well your preventive maintenance program is working.   Chick temperatures Rectal temperatures of baby chicks need to be taken at several time points: before pull, during chick processing, chick holding and at delivery.  Temperatures need to be monitored to make sure they stay around the ideal range of 40oC (104oF).   Variance from the target temperature will affect broiler performance – chicks will not start properly. Using a step-down temperature program and increasing airflow through the hatcher will help keep chicks from overheating, provided all your best management practices are in place and temperatures are monitored in the hatcher, separator room, chick room and transportation. Pre-pull assessment The pre-pull assessment can be done at different times to make sure programs are in place and working properly.  Twelve hours before pull, 70-80 per cent of chicks should be completely hatched (out of the shell, but can still be wet).   Another time for pre-pull assessment is 24 hours before pull, where there should be less than 30 per cent hatched. And while performing a 12-hour pre-pull, it is a good time to monitor rectal temperatures.  The target percentage of chicks hatched is according to the expected hatch percentage, not eggs in the tray.  For example, if the tray contains 162 eggs and the flock expected hatch is 87 per cent, then there will be 141 chicks out when the hatch is complete.  At 12 hours pre pull, 99 chicks (70 per cent of 141) will be in the tray. Critical to meeting goals is having the correct standards in place and achieving them – from the incoming egg pack to the chick delivered to the broiler house.   Remember to confirm that what you think you have is actually what you have.  Good management practices, and proper implementation of programs and standards, will help ensure maximum hatch efficiency and deliver consistently good chick quality.
Modern broiler breeder strains are simply too good at depositing breast muscle. Because they have a higher propensity to deposit muscle rather than fat, they may not have enough energy stored in the body to mobilize in times of energetic debt, and as a result these hens may have difficulty with early chick quality and long-term maintenance of lay. While the bird may still be able to transfer the necessary nutrients to the egg, with less energy available in storage, it will rely much more heavily on the feed it consumes each day to meet this need. The concern is that the bird may carry additional breast muscle throughout life and, in order to maintain this high energy-demanding tissue, the hen will have to divert nutrients it might otherwise have been able to use to support egg production. In order to support egg production in broiler breeder stocks in the coming years, it may be time to question if current feed restriction methods and weight targets are as adequate now as when they were designed over 30 years ago. Dr. Rob Renema and his research team at the University of Alberta have been exploring the concept of “composition restriction.” By manipulating the delivery of dietary energy and protein throughout the life of the bird, they hope to identify methods of feeding birds to a specific carcass composition rather than just to a target body weight. They theorize that this approach could discourage breast muscle deposition while providing for the energetic requirements of final maturation and early egg production. Their findings? What you feed the birds during the growing phase has a greater effect on final carcass composition at the end of egg production than the diets fed during the egg production period do. Why? Primarily because muscle deposition is “set” when they are young, and this has a carry-over effect into the breeder phase. Feeding programs during the rearing or laying phase must not be designed in isolation. Furthermore, growth was tied more closely to energy intake than to protein intake. Despite fairly similar energy intakes, however, energy was still one of the main factors affecting rate of lay. While maternal protein intake had very little effect on egg production, it did have the potential to affect broiler offspring yield and breast muscling – particularly in the males. To read more about this research project, please visit www.poultryindustrycouncil.ca. PIC’s Picks By Tim Nelson, Executive Director Recent events have shown us that people are so important to the poultry industry.   Our Research Day this year featured poultry health research. The focus was not only on disease research, but on the cost of disease to producers and industry as well. This was emphasized by having one Ontario producer tell attendees about his personal experience of managing a serious disease outbreak on his farm. During the Research Day we recognized three eminent poultry researchers from the University of Guelph – Drs. Steve Leeson, Ian Duncan and the late Dr. Bruce Hunter – who dedicated their careers to poultry research. The Poultry Industry Conference and Exhibition (known as the London Poultry Show) musters a veritable who’s who of the poultry service industry in Ontario and beyond. The mood that huge group brings for two days each year to the Western Fair District in London, Ont., to work (and play) together is palpable. What an intense and stimulating two days it is. The PIC brought a few guests in this year and they were blown away by the friendly, welcoming, open reception and hospitality they received at every booth. Great job, industry! So, it was disappointing halfway through day 1 of the show to receive an e-mail from Dr. Fred Silversides, who conducts research into poultry genetics in B.C. (and whose research PIC supports), which said, “In August, my position will be cut as a result of the current round of deficit reductions, and AAFC (Agriculture and Agri-food Canada), is getting out of research in poultry genetic resources when it happens.” We understand the federal and provincial governments are going through tough times. But this was the only centre where this type of research was being undertaken, and it had only one researcher and one student. Not long after receiving this e-mail, the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) informed me that the current Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP) will expire in March 2014, removing the need for regional councils (such as the AAC) in the delivery of any future federally funded programs. Who made these decisions? Who knows – but they were made. How did we (industry) let it happen? Reading the e-mail made me reflect on how lucky we are to have the people at OMAFRA and AAFC here in Ontario who continue to support our programs of research and extension in an effort to ensure our industry’s sustainability. The Poultry Loading Decision Tree, Biosecurity Outreach Program, Growing Forward cost-share program and the upcoming PAACO (welfare auditing) course would not be possible without their support and that of industry and the University of Guelph. Competition and risk management drives us to continue to develop new technologies, tools and management techniques. But what will keep this industry sustainable are the very visible personal connections, relationships, networks and collaborations that bind it together and make it successful. Somehow in B.C. the industry lost a connection. We have great connections in Ontario, but we need to work at them. Make sure your connections extend to our government and university partners and at every opportunity thank them for the funds and people they provide.
Looking to increase the efficiency of his broiler breeder operation, several years ago Serge Lefebvre began shopping around for a system and barn setup that would help him achieve this goal.
July 7, 2017, Langley, B.C. – Approximately 2,000 wildfires occur each year in British Columbia. The effect of wildfires on the province’s agriculture community can be devastating and costly.More than half of the wildfires in 2016 were caused by humans.With the wildfire season upon on us in B.C., there are measures that ranchers, farmers, growers, and others who make their living in agriculture can do to protect their workers and their property. Addressing potential fire hazards will significantly reduce the chances of a large-scale fire affecting your operation.Controlling the environment is important. Clear vegetation and wood debris to at least 10 metres from fences and structures; collect and remove generated wastes whether it is solid, semi-solid, or liquid; and reduce the timber fuel load elsewhere on your property and Crown or lease land to help mitigate the risk.In the case that you have to address fire on your property, have a well-rehearsed Emergency Response Plan (ERP) in place. The ERP should also include an Evacuation Plan for workers and livestock.“Having a map of your property, including Crown and lease lands, and a list of all of your workers and their locations is extremely helpful for evacuation and useful for first responders,” says Wendy Bennett, Executive Director of AgSafe. A list of materials and a safety data sheet of all liquid and spray chemicals and their locations should also be made available to attending firefighters.Bennett suggests checking the Government of BC Wildfire Status website regularly to report or monitor the status of fires in your area.For over twenty years AgSafe has been the expert on safety in the workplace for British Columbia’s agriculture industry and is committed to reducing the number of agriculture-related workplace deaths and injuries by offering health and safety programs, training, evaluation and consultation services.For more information about agriculture workplace safety or AgSafe services call 1-877-533-1789 or visit www.AgSafeBC.ca
June 6, 2016 - The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is collaborating with public health, veterinary, and agriculture officials in many states, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), to investigate seven separate multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections. Results from these investigations showed that contact with live poultry in backyard flocks was the likely source of these outbreaks. READ MORE
Oct. 18, 2013 - The Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) welcomes a new Chair to the CASA Board of Directors, while congratulating a new Director to the Board. Denis Bilodeau, Second Vice President of l’Union des producteurs agricole (UPA) was re-elected to the Board representing producer groups this past October at Get with the Plan! 2013, CASA’s AGM and Conference in Québec City, Québec. He assumes the officer post of Chair of the Board. This is his first term as Chair. Previously Bilodeau has served as Vice-Chair of the CASA Board of Directors for four non-consecutive terms, and has been involved with CASA for approximately fifteen years. “I am pleased to take on this role. I hope to bring my knowledge and expertise to the position, and I hold farm safety close to my heart. It is deeply rooted for me both personally and professionally,” says Bilodeau. Bilodeau replaces outgoing Chair Dean Anderson, Agriculture Program Manager with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services. The Board wishes to thank Anderson for four terms of excellent service as Chair. Anderson takes on the role of Vice-Chair of the CASA Board. Tara Huestis, Farm Safety Specialist with the Workers Compensation Board of PEI, assumes the role of Director representing government. Huestis won her seat by acclamation. This is her first term on the Board. Filling out the remainder of the Board, Lauranne Sanderson, Department Head of Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus, resumes her role as Treasurer, while Billy Woods, producer from Torbay, Newfoundland and Labrador, continues as Secretary. Charan Gill, Chief Executive Officer of Progressive Intercultural Community Services, and Niels Koehncke, Acting Director of the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture, continue their Board terms. At CASA’s AGM, CASA members also voted to revise the Association’s bylaws to enable CASA to comply with the new Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, which establishes a new set of rules for federally incorporated non-profit corporations in Canada. Members also voted to dissolve CASA’s two-tiered membership system. All CASA members will now be able to nominate, run, and elect members directly to the CASA Board of Directors. For more information, please visit www.casa-acsa.ca.
Antimicrobials are used in the broiler industry routinely. Not only do they improve performance (growth, feed conversion and meat yield), but they also reduce the risk of consumers being exposed to food-borne pathogens. Food safety is a significant and growing issue for consumers internationally, and food-related illnesses or deaths often have devastating impacts on entire food supply chains. Despite the benefits that antibiotics provide, there are also potential drawbacks, and their use in animal feeds is under fire. Due to consumer concern, the pressure to ban antibiotic use in poultry feed continues to increase. The primary concerns of the poultry industry for a ban on antibiotic use are potential reductions in production performance and bird welfare.To address these concerns, Dr. Martin Zuidhof and his research team at the University of Alberta have been investigating ways to reduce the prophylactic use of antibiotics in poultry feed. Their aim is to enhance consumer confidence through discovery of effective alternative approaches such as nutritional interventions that can prevent the onset of disease in a novel, non-pharmaceutical manner.The research team approached the problem using two separate research trials. The first trial investigated the use of antibiotics on broiler chicken production. They fed groups two strains of broiler chicks one of four antibiotic treatments (no antibiotic, Bacitracin Methylene Disalicylate (BMD), Roxarsone and Virginiamycin) during the starter and grower periods. They measured feed conversion ratio, mortality, and weights of carcass, breast, leg and wing. The second trial studied the effect of dietary changes that could prepare the immune system to respond quickly and effectively to disease challenges. They investigated the use of nutrient density intervention during the first two weeks, with the addition of either: HyD (a readily available form of vitamin D), and BMD, on growth performance, carcass parameters, intestinal morphology and immune function. Chickens were fed either high- or low-density diets with and without HyD, and with and without BMD, all at recommended levels. Carcass and meat yield, the capacity of blood cells to kill bacteria and other immune responses were measured.During both trials, a necrotic enteritis outbreak occurred. In trial 1, BMD and Virginiamycin reduced mortality from necrotic enteritis. While strain A birds on the no-antibiotic treatment had higher mortality from necrotic enteritis compared to strain B birds, the addition of BMD and Virginiamycin negated that difference. As well, birds fed diets with antibiotics had lower feed conversion ratio than birds fed no antibiotics. Meanwhile, strain B birds had higher feed conversion ratio at day 35. Neither strain nor antibiotic treatments had an effect on breast muscle weight. Lastly, the overall economic impact of antibiotic feeding was a cost reduction of around $0.10/kilogram. This trial confirmed the complexity of understanding the issue of banning prophylactic antibiotics, due to the multi-factorial influences of strain and antibiotic type on economics, health and welfare.In trial 2, the high-density diet increased body weight and meat yield, and decreased feed conversion ratio. High nutrient density resulted in higher net returns, and a nearly significant increase in bacteria killing capacity. BMD reduced mortality compared to birds fed no antibiotics, while HyD increased factors related to the immune response without causing a decrease in performance. Overall, the replacement of antibiotics is a complex challenge because of multi-factorial influences on health and the immune system. Dr. Zuidhof feels that the most likely pathway to successful antibiotic-free poultry production will be the development of an interdependent-systems approach involving both management and nutrition, potentially including the two methods investigated here, but much broader. Sustainability of the poultry industry will require investment in whole-systems approaches to promote and enhance poultry health.
The room went silent for a moment as Jan Shearer fought to keep his composure, unable to speak. “I struggle sometimes to give this presentation,” the veterinarian from Iowa State University told a gathering of Farm and Food Care (FFC) delegates at a meeting in Guelph earlier this spring. His presentation was about what he called the “caring and killing paradox” – the emotional toll of being called on to perform euthanasia, but not always for humane or medical reasons. Veterinarians struggle with euthanasia for the sake of convenience. For example, a dog is no longer wanted because the owner has redecorated the house and the dog doesn’t match the colour scheme anymore. “Do I send this person out the door and possibly send this animal to a terrible death?” he asked. But on the other end of the spectrum, what about when an owner wants to continue treating an animal regardless of the animal’s quality of life, only because they can’t let go? Dealing with the destruction of healthy animals creates a moral stress for the veterinarian, whose life is devoted to maintaining the well-being of animals. This can create a condition not dissimilar to post-traumatic stress disorder, called perpetration-induced traumatic stress. “It’s a very real issue,” said Shearer, “one day a healer; the next day an executioner.” One study in the United Kingdom has revealed that veterinarians are three times more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Shelter workers, laboratory technicians and even young people in 4-H clubs are exposed to the caring and killing paradox, marked by depression, grief and other destructive behaviours that can include alcohol and drug abuse. “It takes a toll,” said Shearer, “a real toll.” Shearer described the difference between human and animal cognition by quoting Bernard Rollin, a philosophy professor at Colorado State University: “In the animal mind – there is only ‘quality of life.’ It’s painful or it’s not, hungry or not, thirsty or not.” Humans, on the other hand, will endure short-term negative experiences for the purpose of achieving long-term goals. “To be the animal’s advocate we have to keep these things in perspective,” said Shearer. The euthanasia procedure can be stressful for a caregiver when the animals are suffering as well. “In a perfect world, we would preserve all life and relieve all suffering by medical or other means,” said Shearer. “Reality is, there are many conditions in animals, whether caused by injury or disease, that result in excruciating pain and/or horrible suffering that cannot be relieved by any other means than euthanasia.” Either way, as a veterinarian, Shearer looks for a so-called “good death,” where life is ended without pain or distress to the animal. “This requires a technique that induces immediate loss of consciousness followed by cardiac and respiratory arrest which results in a loss of brain function and death.” “It’s complicated,” he said, adding that the emotional aspects are harder to deal with than the actual procedure; “the decision is not always black and white.” No one likes or wants to do it, and all are afraid of the possibility of acting too soon. Research is improving euthanasia procedures and the Iowa State University website provides extensive information on euthanasia, including such aspects as equipment maintenance. “Killing can be kind,” said Shearer, again quoting Bernard Rollin. “Better a week too early than a day too late.”
Poultry farmers understand and adhere to strict standards when it comes to food safety, but surprisingly, there are still many who don’t realize that they must also adhere to standards of health and safety. The good news is that it isn’t because farmers don’t care, it is really just a case of many not realizing that, as “businesses,” they fall under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and, if they do know it, of being unsure where to begin. In fact, according to the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA), 85 per cent of producers believe safety is a priority on their farm, yet less than nine per cent of operators have a written agricultural safety plan. At a recent presentation made to members of the Poultry Industry Council, Kristin Hoffman, a consultant with Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS), noted that many producers were surprised to learn the scope of their responsibilities under the OHSA. Many didn’t realize that they are considered “employers” and are responsible for the health and safety of workers who come to their farms. In fact, the Ministry of Labour in Ontario defines an employer as a person who employs one or more workers or a person who contracts for the services of one or more workers. Attendees of the workshop were lucky enough to be learning about this in a meeting room, but some haven’t been so fortunate. In her presentation, Hoffman shared examples of those who were fined because they failed to fulfil their responsibilities as an employer. In the three examples that were shared, two workers were injured and one was killed on the job. The employers were convicted for a variety of offences, including failing to take reasonable precaution and failing to provide information, instruction and supervision, and fines ranged from $50,000 to $80,000. Producers regularly work with outside service providers to manage the various stages of production, which can include delivery services, catching crews, pick-up and transport providers, and cleaning services. In some cases, providers offer more than one of these services, but occasionally different providers are used for each step and farmers aren’t working with the same people every time. “The producer and the service provider need to share in the responsibility of training these workers to be safe on the farm,” explained Hoffman. The service provider should be training their employees on the basics of health and safety, such as fall protection and equipment safety. However, every farm is different and it is up to the operator to orient new workers to the hazards and risks that exist in their workplace.” In addition to providing clients with information about legislated responsibilities, Hoffman also offered some tips on where to start. UNDERSTAND YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES Hoffman and other WSPS consultants are working with individual clients and attending events like this to continue spreading the word about the responsibilities of farm operators and how they can create healthy and safe workplaces. However, there are also many resources available online from associations such as WSPS, the Ministry of Labour, Chicken Farmers of Ontario and CASA.ASSESS WORKPLACE HAZARDS AND RISKS Physical conditions of the farm are very important. Take stock of all of the hazards and risks that exist in your operation including things like equipment, processes, chemicals, etc. Create a list and prioritize them.START WITH SIGNIFICANT RISKS AND DOCUMENT SIMPLE STANDARDS You don’t have to start from scratch. Chicken Farmers of Ontario offers a Safe Work Practices tool on its website, which includes information about job planning and safe work practices, specifically written for broiler chicken farmers.DEVELOP A PLANThere are many resources available to assist farm operators with developing a plan. The Canada FarmSafe Plan, available from CASA, is an adaptable guide for producers to use in developing, implementing and establishing an effective farm and ranch safety plan. And, as the delivery agent for Ontario, WSPS offers the OntarioFarmSafe Plan, which can be downloaded from the website for only $49 (and includes additional resources and templates). This version features provincial legislation and compliance information.TALK TO SERVICE PROVIDERS Consider asking service providers about their health and safety policies and practices when negotiating contracts. Find out if they are providing the necessary training to ensure that workers have the required qualifications, skills and general safety knowledge to work safely. That way, you will be sure they understand the basics when you’re showing them how to work safely on your farm.SHOW AND TELL It’s important to spend time with new workers arriving on the farm to make sure they know about the processes and equipment that they’ll be working with. Take the time to walk them around the area in which they’ll be working, as well as tell them what you expect. Health and safety should be managed with the same rigour that goes into every other facet of the business.  “Really, farm operators are well equipped to manage this responsibility. Collaborating on the health and safety of workers is no different than collaborating with food manufacturers on the health and safety of the flock. It’s really just a matter of understanding responsibilities, making the commitment and developing a plan that makes sense for your farming operation,” said Hoffman.ABOUT WORKPLACE SAFETY AND PREVENTION SERVICES WSPS provides industry-specific health and safety products, training and consulting services to 154,000 businesses and 3.8 million employees in Ontario’s agricultural, manufacturing and service sectors. As one of four health and safety associations operating under the Health and Safety Ontario banner, WSPS is a trusted advisor to businesses, large and small, seeking to boost productivity and profitability by reaching zero work-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities. For more information on farm safety and links to downloadable resources, visit www.healthandsafetyontario.ca or contact WSPS at 1-877-494-9777.

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