A multi-state outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, including Kentucky, has reduced the United States’ egg laying hen population to the smallest size in at least seven years. More than 50 million birds have died. As a result, egg prices are on the rise in many grocery stores and some folks are wondering if the eggs and poultry products that remain are safe to consume.
While you may see fewer eggs available in some areas, you don’t really need to worry about the safety of poultry in the stores because no products from infected flocks are entering the food chain.
Because of the severity of the outbreak, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has issued new restrictions on poultry that might impact your participation in county fairs or other poultry activities. All avian comingling sales events are now banned, including but not limited to stockyards, flea markets and swap meets. You also can’t sell birds at any fair or show including auctions. Private sales and direct movement of birds from farm to farm is still okay in accordance with Kentucky statutes.
All birds from other states have to come through a clean facility before crossing into Kentucky, and those transporting birds into the state need to have a permit from the Kentucky state veterinarian’s office, http://www.kyagr.com/statevet/.
You must buy chicks from hatcheries that are classified as avian influenza H5/H7 clean. If a hatchery is in an infected state, you can’t buy chicks from them if they are within seven miles of an infected farm.
Exhibition events, shows and fairs are restricted to intrastate movement only. No out-of-state entries will be allowed. The complete list of restrictions is detailed on the KDA website at http://www.kyagr.com/Kentucky-AGNEWS/press-releases/Kentucky-restricts-sales-and-movement-of-birds-as-proactive-response-to-avian-flu-outb.html.
The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment has several helpful publications about avian influenza at http://afspoultry.ca.uky.edu/poultrypubs#Influenza.
Another helpful resource is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Health Birds website at http://healthybirds.aphis.usda.gov/.
Contact the Bell County Cooperative Extension Service for more information about poultry production and avian influenza.
Stacy White is the county extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Source: Tony Pescatore, UK extension poultry professor. Educational programs of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.