Avian flu: poultry farmers increasingly concerned

While a third turkey farm in San Gabriel de Valcartier was affected by bird flu within 10 days, concern is growing among poultry farmers in the province.

• Read also: Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier: A new case of avian influenza raises concern

• Read also: Avian influenza is gaining momentum in Quebec

With more than 14,000 animals slaughtered in the latter case, at least 32,000 turkeys have been affected in this municipality.

Earlier this year, the disease first hit duck farms in the eastern suburbs hard. Recently there has been a wave of mortality among seabirds, on the Magdalene Islands, on Gaspezi and on Bass Saint Laurent.

“There are great concerns among our breeders. We were already worried before the first cases by seeing what was happening in the United States and in other provinces. With this third case, the level of anxiety is rising, it is normal”, explains Pierre-Luc Leblanc, head of poultry breeders in Quebec.

His association brings together 699 breeders of turkeys and chickens.

We give them the best possible tools to confront the crisis by maximizing biosecurity. We are talking about changing shoes and clothes before entering the chicken coops, clearing the entrance, the wheels of vehicles entering the site, stopping visits. Despite the good procedures, cases are increasing, and even more troublesome. We wonder where it will stop,” Mr. LeBlanc wonders.

These are very high financial losses. But also a very emotional graphic to see his sick animals.”

Already under pressure

And all this is happening in the context of hyperinflation.

“At the moment, it’s not enough (losses) to play on supply and demand. But it can come to that if cases build up, LeBlanc estimates. With grain and oil prices, we’ve got big increases in operating costs. Then there’s bird flu. It’s really year to forget.”

With the range of measures taken, Pierre-Luc Leblanc also questions the mode of transmission of the disease, since farmed poultry are not in direct contact with wild birds.

We can think that it can be spread by wind and aerosols, but we have no evidence. But biosecurity measures are important and that’s what we’re going to get out of in the short term. Breeders need to hold their heads high and not get discouraged. I’m sure they’ll do it very well,” he said.

The chief poultry farmer of Quebec points out that the concentration of sites in San Gabriel is very high, with 85 chicken coops within a radius of only 10 km.

very sweet

Moreover, turkey appears to be a more vulnerable species than chicken in the face of this disease.

We’ve seen this in both Canada and the United States. We are aware that it primarily affects older birds. A turkey farm can last from 80 to 140 days. We will document it when necessary,” Mr. LeBlanc advances.

As in humans, vaccination is possible in animals, especially for bird flu.

The vaccine is there, but it is very expensive. It is not authorized everywhere which complicates the export process. We are not there, but we will have to look at alternatives because it is a global crisis”, concludes Pierre-Luc Leblanc.

The third site is located a few meters from the second infected site, according to information obtained from poultry farmers in Quebec.

Remember, the first case was discovered on June 28 on a farm with 4,600 turkeys. Then a second site, housing nearly 14,000 turkeys, was bombed on 3 July.

– With QMI

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