Professor Brown, Belushi, Bronzie and B2 strutted toward me across the June-green farmyard, accompanied by their entourage of hens. Back toward the barn, the neat little Production Red laying hens and glossy Black Jersey Giants scratched in the gravel, overseen by Goliath and the other Jersey Giant roosters.
They’re obviously healthy, and even state-certified healthy, but in quarantine nonetheless. Why? Because some unidentified commercial flock in the area, tens of thousands of birds that never once walked outdoors in sunlight or scratched the ground for bugs, was infected by avian flu and destroyed to the last bird. Continue reading
What’s wrong with the agriculture, environment and natural resources bill? It’s hard to know where to begin. Partly, the problem is the bill is too damn big. Along with the budget items, (mostly) Republican legislators threw in a pile of bad laws that they thought they could get through at the last minute. They figured, wrongly as it turned out, that Governor Dayton would focus only on the education bill and would let them get away with murder in environmental rollbacks. They were wrong.
“They had hazmat suits,” the farmer said, “and they sprayed the tires of their truck with disinfectant, too.”
“They” are inspectors checking for avian flu. Coming from all over the United States, the teams travel farm to farm, testing poultry for avian flu. The highly contagious disease has killed more than five million birds — mostly turkeys — in Minnesota and more than 25 million — mostly egg-laying chickens — in Iowa. There is no known treatment or vaccine. Once it hits a flock, the H5N2 virus kills quickly, and kills 90 percent of the birds in those flocks. Continue reading
This spring, avian flu has killed millions of turkeys and chickens in the Upper Midwest. As the country’s turkey champion, Minnesota produces about 46 million turkeys per year. As of May 12, 85 Minnesota flocks in 21 counties have been hit by this bird flu. More than five million Minnesota birds have been affected. This avian flu outbreak has hit Minnesota particularly hard, with 85 of about 133 affected flocks in the state.