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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



I’m going to do my best here to give you backyard farmers a little information this week. I’ve done my best to read through as much information as I have been able to find, but as always, please do your own research and keep informed with future announcements from the Iowa Department of Agriculture. As many of you are aware the avian flu epidemic in Iowa has reached a critical junction which already has infected over three million birds in Iowa including over a million laying hens in Madison County, and since no one is quite sure how the flu is spread or a way to vaccinate against it, but here are a few things that you and I as backyard producers of chickens can do to help protect your own flock.

The first thing you need to do is not panic, but to use common sense when it comes to poultry livestock. The virus that causes it is mostly spread by wild fowl, however humans can be carriers on clothing and vehicle tires. The AI virus can live 105 days so it can easily be found in infected manure. For this reason anyone who has a backyard flock should be careful to take some bio-security methods into account. For anyone visiting your farm a three to one ratio mix of bleach should be used to disinfect shoes and vehicle tires. It is also a good idea for you to disinfect your own shoes and vehicles upon leaving your property if you will be visiting somewhere that chickens are being raised.

It is also strongly suggested that you take care not to transport live birds from one farm to another in case the AI virus is present but unknown. How this will affect the local sales of small fowl at auctions has yet to be seen. If you are buying new chicks to reinvest in your flock take care to go directly from store to home and to burn any packaging materials immediately after placing your chicks into a brooder.

For those who already have flocks established be on the lookout for signs of the flu. Excessive water build up in the comb and waddle as well as surface bleeding on the inner thigh combined with a higher than normal mortality rate will give you a good indication that you probably should call the vet to have your flock tested.

It is important to remember as well that eggs purchased from a home grower should be washed well before leaving the farm. Eggs and poultry are still safe to eat and there have been no cases of the AI virus infecting humans but if we all do our part in being smarter hopefully we can help stem the tide of the epidemic in Iowa and protect our home flocks at the same time.

See you next week….remember, we’re all in this together.