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
Decades ago when the scientific community had concerns about bacterial resistance to antibiotics, the agricultural industry started to produce antibiotic-free (ABF)flocks. Generally speaking, all chicken is antibiotic-free, because there are no antibiotic residues in the meat due to the withdrawal periods in broiler production. So in the U.S., “antibiotic-free” is not allowed to be used on a label but may be found in marketing materials not regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In recent years, the term “raised without antibiotics” (RWA) is widely used for the flocks that are raised without the use of products classified as antibiotics for animal health maintenance, disease prevention or treatment of disease. However, it can mean different things depending on the country in which you are producing chickens. Table 1 below shows the different meaning of an RWA flock in Canada, U.S. and Europe. In Canada, absolutely no antibiotics, ionophores, or chemical coccidiostats are allowed in RWA production, whereas in the U.S., chemical coccidiostats are allowed for RWA flocks. This poses even more challenges for Canadian RWA producers. There are many factors that can affect broiler flock performance ranging from nutrition and health status of breeder flocks, hatchery operations, chick quality, nutrition and water quality to flock management. To successfully grow RWA flocks, one should not only provide good management and environmental conditions as for regular broiler flocks, but should create superior conditions such as reducing stocking density, increasing downtime between crops, acidifying litter, and providing high quality water. Nutritionally, well balanced rations formulated with high quality ingredients are crucial for RWA flocks. Chick qualityA great flock starts with good quality chicks, and chick quality is even more important for broiler RWA production due to the lack of antibiotic protection. The feeding and management of broiler breeders can play an important part in the offspring’s health and performance. The breeder farms should follow strict biosecurity protocols, and breeders should receive a well-balanced and nutritionally adequate diet. Eggs should be handled in a professional manner and stored in ideal conditions. Hatcheries should follow a strict biosecurity program, with regimented cleaning and disinfection procedures. Chick boxes and hatcher trays have to be washed with correct temperatures. Good maintenance of hatching temperature and ventilation equipment is critical, as it has been shown that stress from late stage over-heating may result in leg problems and performance issues. Transport can be stressful for chicks. The temperature should be tightly regulated in the compartments with proper ventilation. To ensure uniform chick quality, there should be no over-heating in some areas while dead spots exist in others. Coccidiosis vaccinationUnlike RWA producers in the U.S., Canadian RWA producers cannot use chemicals to control coccidiosis, so the only option is vaccination. Coccidiosis control is key for successful RWA production, because it impacts intestinal integrity, gut health and is correlated to the risk of necrotic enteritis. Uniform vaccine application and uptake are essential for successful protection from a coccidiosis vaccine. The stocking density for the first seven days should be controlled at a half square foot per chick (or 465 cm2/bird), and litter moisture kept higher than normal at 30 to 35 per cent. The higher density and litter moisture will encourage oocyst sporulation and the opportunity to re-infect each other from their droppings. Thus, the immunity to coccidiosis will be developed earlier, and the flock will be better protected from coccidiosis. Flock managementStocking density after 10 days of age is also one of the most important factors that affect RWA flock performance. A minimum density of one square foot per bird is ideal. When the density is reduced, birds have more water line and feeder space, less competition for feed and water, better litter conditions and fewer pathogen challenges. For RWA broiler production, the litter quality is crucial. The wetter the litter, the more likely it will promote the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria and moulds. Wet litter is also the primary cause of ammonia emissions, one of the most serious performance and environmental factors affecting broiler production today. Controlling litter moisture is the most important step in avoiding ammonia problems. There are many factors that can affect litter conditions, such as leaking water lines, various diseases, improper rations, and ventilation. Ventilation removes combustion waste by brooders, ammonia, and moisture produced by birds while continually replenishing oxygen. Broiler genetics keep improving, and broilers grow faster every year, so their demand for oxygen is increasing all the time while their output of moisture is also increasing. Thus, producers should not use the ventilation rate of 10 years ago to grow today’s birds. Adequate and effective ventilation is critical for litter management and coccidiosis control, especially for RWA production. Producers should check and manage watering systems to prevent leaks that would increase litter moisture. Furthermore, producers should adjust drinker height and water pressure as birds grow to avoid excessive water wastage into the litter. Chick growth rate should be moderately controlled to avoid fast weight gain. This is particularly important in a flock that is 10 to 30 days of age, when there is more challenge from coccidiosis, thus a higher risk of necrotic enteritis. Producers should modify the lighting program, by slightly increasing dark hours to nine or even 10 hours, in order to improve the health condition and immunity of the birds. This modification is even more necessary for RWA flocks than for regular flocks. Nutrition for RWA flocksSound nutrition starts with a good selection of high-quality ingredients. Composition of feed ingredients should be consistent, and all grains should be free from toxin contamination. This is critical for the first four weeks of age. Nutritionally, all ingredients should be highly digestible, since the nondigested portions might enhance unwanted microbial growth and increase the chance for necrotic enteritis. The maximum inclusion rate for some ingredients such as wheat and corn distiller grains must be closely monitored, if not eliminated. There is evidence that suggests a strong relationship between higher inclusions of these ingredients with necrotic enteritis. Some reports suggest that animal protein may increase the risk for necrotic enteritis. It is generally accepted that lower crude protein levels should be fed to RWA flocks, because higher protein may increase the chance for necrotic enteritis. Mineral balance is vital for RWA rations. Mineral levels that are either too high or too low will not only affect broiler body weight gain and feed conversion ratio (FCR), but also impact litter quality, gut health, and hence flock performance. With reduced growth and high-quality ingredients, the RWA feeds can cost more than the regular feeds. Together with a higher FCR for RWA flocks, it will result in a higher feed cost per kilogram of body weight gain. Alternative feed additivesOver the last few decades, there has been a lot of research to explore alternatives for antibiotics in broiler production. Generally, these alternatives are categorized into feed enzymes, phytogenic additives, probiotics, prebiotics and symbiotics (a probiotic and prebiotic combination). Feed enzymes which help improve the digestion and nutrient utilization, and in some cases improve gut health, are widely used by nutritionists in both regular feeds and RWA feeds. Phytogenic additives (herbs, spices, essential oils or extracts) that originate from plants have been used in human food and medicine for thousands of years. Among these phytogenic products, essential oils have received considerable attention. Their active ingredients such as carvacrol, thymol, eugenol, alicin and cinnamaldehyde have been evaluated extensively as alternatives for antibiotics to improve animal health and performance. Some phytogenic products have direct antimicrobial effects, and other products show their effects on immune-regulation. Probiotics are also called direct fed microbial (DFM) in the U.S. The mode of action is to compete for available receptor sites and nutrients with pathogens, and produce or secrete metabolites (such as short chain fatty acids and bacterocin), thus changing the gut microflora and bird performance. Prebiotics are feed components that are not digested by host animals but selectively promote beneficial bacterial growth, hence improving animal performance. In this category, some commonly used products are mannan-oliglosaccharides (MOS) and fructo- oliglosaccharides (FOS). There has been considerable research done to investigate the effects of these alternative products on animal performance and health. Yet, the responses are quite variable due to the purity and concentration of these products, how they interact with flock management and health conditions, as well as the nutritional status of the birds. SummaryTo date, there is no silver bullet as an alternative to antibiotics. In conclusion, a decent RWA flock relies on the following factors: Good quality chicks that come from a healthy breeder flock and well managed hatchery; A successful coccidiosis vaccination program with higher stocking density and higher litter moisture for the first 10 days; Sound management practices with an emphasis on improving ventilation and reducing litter moisture; An RWA ration formulated with highly digestible ingredients and optimized mineral levels; Moderately reduced growth by providing more dark hours.
The rapid escalation in cage-free sourcing announcements from fast-food and quick serve restaurants in recent months has become concerning. The words “cage-free” have become a marketing gimmick, and less a about the welfare of laying hens. Opponents of animal agriculture will look upon this tidal wave as a win for animal welfare, and continually claim that these restaurant chains are answering consumer concerns over hen housing. But, I suspect that most food businesses are, for the most part, bowing to pressure placed on them from animal activist groups. Releasing a cage-free commitment announcement has essentially become an insurance policy for a company against having its name associated with disturbing undercover videos or other forms of negative press and social media backlash. Until recently, this battle hasn’t affected individual farmers in Canada to a great extent. It’s provided an opportunity for some to expand or transition and supply what is still considered a niche market. However, when major grocery store chains follow suit, the entire egg industry is going to be affected — and so is the average consumer. Restaurant and foodservice providers can make blanket statements about sourcing one type of egg because it’s too complicated for them to offer, for example, a breakfast sandwich made with either an egg that’s cage-free, conventional, organic, enriched or free-range housing – it’s confusing and a logistical nightmare for their supply chains. Whether a consumer is actively choosing a particular restaurant because the eggs are cage-free or not is a moot point when virtually every chain offers the same egg option. For a consumer, the decision of where to eat becomes a matter of convenience, price, and taste. However, the grocery store is still where a consumer can make a conscious decision on what type of egg to buy. But that may change. In mid-March grocery members of the Retail Council of Canada(RCC), including Loblaw Companies Limited, Metro Inc., Sobeys Inc., and Wal-Mart Canada Corp., announced they are “voluntarily committing to the objective of purchasing cage-free eggs by the end of 2025” (see page 6). No longer is the cage-free issue a way for a company to differentiate itself within a competitive marketplace, it’s now on a path to become the majority. There’s no doubt that cage-free housing offers improved animal welfare compared to conventional housing, however a multi-year intensive study by the Coalition for a Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) determined that when all factors of sustainability were examined, including important parameters such as food affordability and environmental impact, cage-free systems did not reign supreme. The CSES study determined that enriched colony housing offered the best for the hen, farmer and consumer – yet it’s a system that is rarely mentioned by restaurants and retailers. The Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) hope to change this. It’s not about pitting one system against another – it’s about providing the consumer and retailers with choices, and keeping eggs an affordable source of high-quality protein. There’s still time to turn the tide – but it’s going to be a battle the Canadian egg industry will be fighting for the next several years at least.
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.
May 16, 2016 - Merial hosted more than 500 participants at its 4th Merial Global Avian Forum in Barcelona to address opportunities in meeting the global demand for an abundant supply of safe and affordable source of protein. Poultry and egg producers, and top avian health scientists and experts from 70 countries shared information about solutions to efficiently prevent and control disease, strategies to increase productivity of poultry flocks and maximize efficiency of the poultry producers’ businesses. The growth of the global population, and expanding middle class populations and incomes in many developing countries, will require more than 30 per cent more animal protein worldwide by the year 2030. As a result, poultry producers are advancing their business models to deliver a greater quantity of healthy chicken meat at affordable prices. In a more complex and global environment, poultry production requires all-encompassing and evolving strategies that address infrastructure, production systems, disease prevention and sustainability. “As vast, multi-national poultry producers strive to safely produce more protein than ever before, Merial works side by side with them in every region of the world, to improve the health and productivity of flocks and to increase the efficiency and profitability of their business,” said Jérôme Baudon, Global Head of the Avian Business at Merial. Presentations and workshops during the forum explored global and regional poultry management trends; the evolution of emerging and re-emerging avian diseases; and current and future diagnostics and vaccine technologies. In an opening session, Rabobank Animal Protein Senior Analyst Nan-Dirk Mulder discussed the opportunity for producers to benefit from poultry being the fastest growing protein market, due to the low production costs, the health benefits of chicken meat, and consumer preference for affordability and convenience. He addressed the importance of production efficiency advances in light of the increasing pressures of global animal disease, supply and distribution challenges, food safety, animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Mr. Mulder also provided insight into the business models of the different regions and the import/export dynamics in a globalizing poultry industry. Several interactive discussions focused on the prevalence - often with considerable differences in regions - and evolution of (re)emerging diseases in the world, including respiratory diseases (avian influenza, Newcastle disease virus (NDV), Marek’s disease, infectious bronchitis, mycoplasmosis and infectious laryngotracheitis) and digestive diseases (caused by viruses, bacteria, coccidia, Histomonas and other parasites). Other presentations examined strategies to prevent and control these highly endemic diseases, which have the potential to threaten entire flocks and cause significant quality, supply and economic losses. These sessions addressed a range of approaches to protect more birds from disease with greater convenience, less expense and reduced environmental impact, including: Disease diagnostic and vaccine monitoring tools Current and new vector vaccines in development Vaccination delivery methods and equipment solutions Hatchery automation and management techniques Flock management, cleaning & disinfection At the meeting, Merial announced updates on the use of its novel NeO effervescent tablet vaccine formulation, a simple, convenient and eco-friendly vaccine formulation that launched in September 2015. The NeO tablets are packaged in lightweight aluminum blisters and dissolved in water for spray, eye drop or drinking water administration, delivering enhanced convenience for the poultry farmers, safety for the birds and environmental benefits. The Avinew NeO effervescent tablet vaccine is already available in 16 countries for immunization against NDV and continues to roll-out globally. Merial also presented a product Life Cycle Assessment study comparing the environmental impact of the new NeO effervescent tablet solution to the existing Avinew™ vial packaging by looking at resources, and carbon and water footprint indicators. In France, the NeO packaging reduced climate impact by 80 percent, decreased resources by 70 percent, and reduced water use by 70 percent as a result of a reduction in raw materials, cold storage, and freight and distribution. The study revealed that NeO packaging is less impacting regardless of geography, and that important savings are made for every life cycle stage. The Merial Global Avian Forum also recognized the 10-year anniversary of Merial’s pioneering VAXXITEK HVT+IBD vector vaccine, used to protect flocks against Marek’s disease and Gumboro disease, two common yet threatening immunosuppressive diseases. Administered in the hatchery, the vaccine allows for immunization against both diseases with a single vaccine dose. VAXXITEK HVT+IBD is one of several offerings supported by Merial’s pioneering VTS (VaccinationTechnology and Services) teams. These dedicated field experts around the world work closely with customers at hatcheries and farms by delivering equipment, support, audits and training to help manage flock health and productivity.
January 13, 2016 - A team of researchers at Kansas State University, in collaboration with Garcia-Sastre of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has developed a vaccine that protects poultry from multiple strains of avian influenza found in the U.S., including H5N1, H5N2 and H5N8. The vaccine has the potential to be administered through water or into embryonated eggs, making it easier for poultry producers to vaccinate flocks. The vaccine, called NDV-H5Nx, protects chickens and likely other poultry against the three recently introduced U.S. avian influenza strains H5N1, H5N2 and H5N8, as well as against Newcastle disease virus — a virus that naturally affects poultry. Avian influenza killed millions of chickens and turkeys in the U.S. in spring and summer 2015, leading to billions in lost revenue for the U.S. poultry industry. The NDV-H5Nx vaccine also has the potential to be administered to millions of birds at a time through water, said Jürgen Richt, Regents distinguished professor of veterinary medicine, director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases at Kansas State University and one of the researchers involved in the discovery. "The vaccine we produced is a live vaccine, which means it replicates in birds," Richt said. "Because it's live, we believe that the vaccine could be sprayed into the air or put in the water supply so that when the chickens need a drink, they could be vaccinated. A poultry farm could vaccinate all of its birds in a single day because all living creatures need water to live." The vaccine also has potential to be administered to developing chicks in eggs, resulting in offspring being automatically vaccinated for the diseases, said Wenjun Ma, Kansas State University assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology and one of the researchers involved. H5 vaccines currently on the market require that each chicken be injected by hand. Many poultry operations have millions of birds and it would take many hours to vaccinate every chicken, Richt said. Additionally, the NDV-H5Nx vaccine has the ability to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals, or DIVA. This compatibility is critical for the U.S. poultry industry because it provides evidence to trade partners that poultry have been vaccinated and is free of H5, Richt said. Researchers developed the NDV-H5Nx vaccine with a recombinant virus technique similar to the one used to make NDV-H5N1 and NDV-H7N9 vaccines in 2015. The extracellular domain of the H5 or H7 protein of the respective avian influenza viruses was transplanted into the Newcastle disease virus vaccine strain LaSota in order to make the vaccine constructs. The three H5Nx strains are genetically similar but cause different disease severity in birds. The H5N2 strain is most prominent in the U.S. and the deadliest. The original H5N8 avian influenza strain was first found in South Korea in 2014 and subsequently in other Asian countries, including China and Japan, before spreading to Europe. It came to North America as H5N8 where it mixed with other avian influenza viruses in the U.S. and Canada to form H5N2 and H5N1, Ma said. "The H5 avian influenza strains affect poultry worldwide and have a 100 percent mortality rate in chickens within six days," Ma said. Kansas State University researchers developed and tested the NDV-H5Nx vaccine against H5N2, the deadliest strain, in the course of three months. The rapid vaccine development — which included vaccine production, H5Nx animal model development and efficacy testing — is a testament to Kansas State University's ability to quickly respond to emerging foreign animal diseases, Richt said. "This was very much a team project and something that we couldn't have done in this time frame if it wasn't for teamwork," Richt said. "For diseases it's critical to have a multidisciplinary approach. Kansas State University has the expertise, resources and environment necessary to do this work and make this multidisciplinary approach work." Richt and Ma presented the project along with the proof-of-concept vaccination methods at a recent meeting of stakeholders and leaders in the U.S. agricultural industry, including the chicken and turkey industries, who will be helpful in the further development and adoption of the NDV-H5Nx vaccine. Researchers are currently preparing to publish their findings in a scientific journal. The project was funded through the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility's research project transitional funds and Avimex. NBAF, under construction adjacent to Kansas State University's Manhattan campus, will be the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's foremost animal disease research facility and will study high-consequence animal diseases that affect the nation's agriculture and biosecurity.
Oct. 3, 2013 - Maple Lodge Farms, an independent poultry company that sells a variety of meats, has been found guilty of two counts of violating federal health regulations after over 1,500 hens froze to death.According to The Toronto Star, the judge cited that the birds experienced "undue suffering" in severe winter weather on way to the Brampton processing plant. The verdict is just part of a larger case against the company, which includes 58 criminal charges.“The driver … was instructed to load the birds, and notwithstanding the weather [between -9 and -16 C], he did so, regardless of the condition of the hens,” the judge said.For more information, please visit The Toronto Star.
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.
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.
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.
Regardless of how you feel about it, your role as a producer of food has changed since your grandfather was farming. No longer are you simply trusted to produce safe chicken, eggs and turkey; now, you’re expected to prove it. Whereas 50 years ago, “agvocacy” wasn’t really necessary because most people were intimately connected with agriculture, today’s shoppers are typically two or more generations removed from the land. So, as a farmer in 2013, it’s your professional duty to help debunk myths about the sector. If you’re not reading something in the mainstream media that makes your blood boil, you’re probably overhearing uninformed conversations about the safety of food and suddenly finding yourself “on duty.” Regrettably, I recently witnessed a hair stylist orate to the impressionable mind in his chair. He was telling his client, quite seriously, that he buys only organic food because there are all sorts of things in meat, nowadays, even if it is from a real animal. None of it is regulated, did you know? And in Europe they’re making horses into burgers! There really was only one thing that I could do – that we all could have done. In situations like these, we stop the cynic right there and find ourselves doing a live, unplugged version of Agriculture 101 – the rendition that we reserve for when the uninformed have the bad luck of casting aspersions in our presence. We take the time to explain reality, and while we won’t wholly convert the oblivious offender, we may make him think twice before serving up fallacies with the next cut-and-blow. It’s an uphill battle to correct misinformation, but consumers are more concerned about their food than ever before. Gaining and retaining their confidence isn’t optional; it’s imperative. And the more proof we’re able to hold up regarding what’s being done to ensure wholesome Canadian-produced food, the better. The struggle to keep that public support, however, is now a lot easier for Canada’s chicken farmers. On March 19, The Honourable Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, announced that Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) has been awarded federal, provincial and territorial government recognition of its On-Farm Food Safety Assurance Program (OFFSAP). The distinction has been a long time in coming and the convoluted timeline to get to this point only serves as proof that this is not some willy-nilly rubber-stamped program. Developing the system so that it is in line with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles, then submitting it for technical review to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and having it implemented, audited and assessed, means that consumers can be assured that chicken farmers are serious about producing a safe, quality product. It’s one thing to say you’re committed. But, as the longtime CFC mantra illustrates, chicken farmers can say what they’ll do, do what they say, and then prove it when challenged. It’s all in the certifications, the statistics – and the records. So, when a Canadian chicken farmer overhears one of those ignorant diatribes, he or she can fight the good fight because they have OFFSAP backing them up. And that’s one more step towards sustaining confidence in Canadian chicken purchases at the grocery store level. Congratulations, CFC.
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London Poultry ShowWed Apr 05, 2017
Canada's Food Loss and Waste Forum | Finding solutionsWed Apr 12, 2017
Western Meeting of Poultry Clinicians and PathologistsWed May 17, 2017
B.C. Poultry SymposiumThu May 18, 2017
Canadian Meat Council 97th Annual ConferenceMon Jun 05, 2017
Poultry Innovations Conference and BanquetTue Nov 07, 2017