Saturday, April 25, 2015

Call to the USDA

Well, this week was rather annoying. Sally died last Saturday and then this week, one of my nine-week-old baby chickens just up and died on Thursday. I have another chick, Jim Bob, who is droopy and seems to be acting like the other one did before it died. I had treated the chicks and Steve with Corid for coccidiosis, but the chick still died. With that, I figured it was about time to report my sick birds.

The USDA has a "sick bird" hotline based out of Kandiyohi County so I called that and spoke to one of the veterinarians. He was a nice fellow from Kansas who is up here working this now proclaimed "state of emergency" by Governor Dayton. Anyhow, he asked a lot of questions about the birds' symptoms, when it started, about the birds that died. He said that since I don't have a huge amount of birds dying it could very well just be a respiratory disease like I originally suspected. He said that he would have the field agent call me in the morning (today) to see how things went over night.

We also talked about the process on how they go about testing the birds. They have an agent go to the farm and take samples from several birds- ones displaying symptoms and healthy birds. They take the samples in to be tested and then the USDA keeps in contact with the farmer to monitor the birds in the mean time. If the results come back negative, nothing happens other than some education on trying to keep your birds safe from the bird flu with taking biosecurity precautions, etc.

If the birds do test positive, your property is quarantined. They will then take inventory of your flock and appraise the value of each bird based on their age, purpose, etc., and draw up an appraisal that both the farmer and USDA signs. They will compensate you for your birds, euthanize the entire flock and dispose of their bodies. I didn't ask how they actually euthanize, but someone in a chicken group I'm a part of said that they had been using fireman's foam to euthanize the massive turkey farms that have been effected.

After the birds are disposed of, you are given specific instructions on how to sanitize and disinfect your farm. Until that is completed to the USDA's standards, you may not have any poultry at that location. Once your farm is cleared, you may have poultry there again and start over.

The vet told me that they have tested many, many backyard flocks and only one had come up positive for the bird flu, so my chances are pretty low that it's what my birds have (THANKFULLY!). He said that they won't be able to tell me what my birds have if it's not the flu because they are only testing for the flu virus.

I went out to check my birds this morning. No one died, but Jim Bob is still a bit droopy and there are about 3 birds that are coughing and sniffling. 

The field agent called me this morning at 7 to check in. I gave him a report of how they did overnight and the symptoms that are currently being exhibited. He said that my flock is unlikely to have the bird flu, but he wants to take some samples just to make sure. He is out taking samples from several flocks this weekend and when he gets closer to my area, he will stop by and take some swabs. 

So other than that, things are going okay. My newest 1.5 week old ducklings, who are being kept on a completely different property from the sick flock, are doing well and are growing like weeds. The two pekins have gotten big and the little black ducks are still cute as can be. I plan to keep them completely separate until I know what's going on with my flock.

That's all for now and I'll report back after the test results are back.

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