Avian Flu Outbreak: Challenges and Innovative Prevention Methods

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Avian Flu Outbreak and Innovative Prevention Methods

Loren Brey, a poultry grower in Minnesota, was shocked to find several hens dead from the highly pathogenic avian flu when he visited his farm in November. Within a week, nearly half of his entire flock had succumbed to the virus. To protect his turkeys from wild carriers of the disease, Brey implemented a unique prevention method: installing lasers on his barns that emit green light to deter birds like ducks and owls.

As migratory birds head north in the spring, poultry farmers nationwide are bracing for another avian flu outbreak. Some farmers, including Brey, are adopting innovative tactics such as drones, air horns, balloons, and decoy predators to safeguard their flocks.

Impact of Avian Flu on Poultry Industry

While the recent avian flu strain has affected only a small portion of the billions of birds sold annually in the United States, the consequences are significant. Large-scale industrial farms and egg-producing chicken operations are among the hardest hit, with two-thirds of affected birds originating from just 30 farms with over one million hens. Turkey farms, like Brey’s, have also faced substantial losses due to their susceptibility to the virus.

When a bird is infected, federal regulations often mandate the culling of the entire flock, leading to the disposal of millions of birds through various methods such as composting, burial, incineration, or rendering. Since the detection of the lethal avian flu strain in February 2022, over 1,100 flocks have been affected, resulting in the death of approximately 90 million birds across the country.

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