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July news for backyard flock owners

State Veterinarian Doug Meckes announced additional precautions that are being put in place to help North Carolina prepare for a possible introduction of highly pathogenic avian influenza.

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is requiring all poultry owners, regardless of the number of birds, to register for an NCFarmID number, Meckes said. This will facilitate the department in alerting poultry owners about an outbreak, especially owners in close proximity to a positive farm. Anyone already part of the National Poultry Improvement Plan is exempt from this requirement. Click the logo to the right for a link to the form.

“In planning our response for highly pathogenic avian influenza, one problem we’ve come across is that we can’t protect birds that we don’t know exist,” Meckes said. “We need to know where poultry are located so we can properly protect commercial and backyard flocks."

Information gathered through NCFarmID registration is used solely for animal health purposes. This critical data will provide animal health officials with necessary contact information in case of an animal health concern, and help identify animals and premises that may have been affected.

Last month, Meckes and Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced that bird shows and sales would be halted from Aug. 15 to January 15, 2016. The intent is to prevent birds from commingling and spreading the HPAI virus. Individual sales are still allowed to take place.

For more information about avian influenza and the department’s response plans, go to www.ncagr.gov/avianflu.

News for commercial growers

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is requiring any commercial poultry grower with 200 or more birds to submit a HPAI outbreak plan. A commercial grower would be any grower under contract with an integrated company.

“It’s very important that growers think through the worst-case scenario, because a confirmation of high-path avian flu would certainly be a worst-case scenario,” Meckes said. “We want each grower to consider their resources and location to determine how they can best handle an outbreak in a way that is environmentally sensitive and gets them back online as soon as is feasible.”

An HPAI Outbreak Plan template will be available on the department’s avian flu website after Aug. 3. Growers will need to submit the plan to the Veterinary Division no later than Sept. 15.

While only commercial growers will be required to submit the plan, all flock owners are encouraged to plan ahead and consider how they would respond to a confirmed positive.

Help spread the word!

Please share this newsletter with anyone who works with poultry or their suppliers. Download a poster for your place of business. Or share the website www.ncagr.gov/avianflu with a friend or bird enthusiast.

“Why should I register my flock?”

We have heard that question from a number of small-flock owners who are concerned about my emergency order to register all poultry flocks in North Carolina. North Carolina is trying to prepare for what has already affected more than 20 states and cost the lives of nearly 50 million birds since last December: highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI.

This disease has affected both commercial and backyard flocks and has been devastating for those bird owners. Flocks affected by this disease show few signs of illness until they are within 24 hours of death, and no treatment can save them. I have asked each of you to register your flock so that we may work together to preserve those birds by preventing exposure to infection.

The greatest risk to flocks begins with the fall movement of migratory waterfowl south from their breeding grounds in Canada. HPAI can be carried by seemingly healthy wild migratory waterfowl, putting flocks kept outside or in contact with waterfowl at highest risk.

Registering your flock will allow us to open two-way communication concerning this terrible disease.  We will be able to contact registered flock owners with information about how to prevent infection of your flock, and to keep you updated as the fall migration season approaches. Our flock data are kept confidential by law.

Active participants in the National Poultry Improvement Plan do not need to register; however, you may update any contact information that has changed so that we can keep you informed. Email addresses will be especially useful for communication, but we will keep our website updated and issue news releases as we learn more about movement of the disease.

Our state is facing exposure to the worst animal disease event in U.S. history this fall. The response in other states has already cost U.S. taxpayers more than a half-billion dollars. In addition, this disease has led to numerous job losses that hurt farm families and their communities. Please join with me in this small step toward protecting North Carolina's poultry farms of all sizes from this devastating disease.

Thank you,
Doug Meckes, DVM
State Veterinarian

 
Eleventh annual Food Safety Forum scheduled for Aug. 18

The impact that highly pathogenic avian influenza could have on the nation’s food supply will be the focus of the 11th annual Commissioner’s Food Safety Forum.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler will host the event on Aug. 18, in the Expo Center at the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. It is open to farmers, food businesses, regulators, health professionals and other interested people. Admission is free and includes lunch, but pre-registration is required.

“Highly pathogenic avian influenza has not been found in North Carolina, but it has led to the loss of more than 48 million birds in 21 states,” Troxler said. “While the virus isn’t a food safety issue, it has had an impact on the availability of certain poultry and egg products.”

A poultry composting demonstration will also be held on-site after lunch.

 

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Steve Troxler, Commissioner of Agriculture

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