Tag Archives: chickens

My brother, Professor Brown and avian flu

turkey and henProfessor 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

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From bib overalls to hazmat suits

“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

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