Sponsored By
The Farmer Logo

Time of year for HPAI watchTime of year for HPAI watch

Meeker County, Minn., turkey flock was depopulated after highly pathogenic avian influenza confirmed.

Kevin Schulz

October 17, 2023

2 Min Read
Group of turkeys on a farm
BIRD BEWARE: With Minnesota’s first fall case of highly pathogenic avian influenza confirmed, flock owners are encouraged to ramp up their biosecurity plans to protect their birds. ene/Getty Images

Minnesota’s first fall case of highly pathogenic avian influenza was confirmed Oct. 11 in a commercial turkey flock in Meeker County, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

Samples were confirmed positive by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. The site is quarantined, and the 140,000 birds on the premises were depopulated to prevent the spread of the disease.

This case is the first in the state since this spring when two backyard flocks were confirmed — LeSueur County in April and Nobles County in May.

“Unfortunately, HPAI seems to keep popping up during the seasonal migrations in Minnesota,” Brian Hoefs, state veterinarian, says in a BAH press release. “Anyone who has poultry should take this detection as a clear sign to keep a close eye on their flock and initiate your strongest biosecurity practices.”

With that in mind, poultry owners whether commercial or backyard flocks should contact their veterinarian immediately if they see any of the following signs or symptoms in their flock.

  • decrease in feed or water intake

  • swelling or purple discoloration of head, eyelids, comb, wattle and hocks

  • decrease in egg production

  • sudden, unexplained death

  • extreme depression

  • very quiet

  • difficulty breathing

Michael Crusan, BAH communications director, encourages flock owners to complete the agency’s Report Sick Birds form online if they suspect their birds are sick or if there are unexplained deaths in the flock.

While early detection is critical to halt the spread, biosecurity keeps HPAI and other viruses and diseases at bay and stops the spread should the flock become infected. Owners of large and small flocks should review their biosecurity plans to maintain the health of their birds. The University of Minnesota Extension provides a webpage with biosecurity resources for commercial and backyard flocks to protect against disease introduction and spread.

Among the plethora of resources found on the U-M page are two links of utmost importance to flock owners: Poultry biosecurity basics and Writing biosecurity plan using National Poultry Improvement Plan audit principles. It is imperative that producers become well-versed in biosecurity measures — and that they have a plan in place and adhere to it.

According to U-MN and NPIP, a successful biosecurity plan comes down to two main parts:

  1. Describing the biosecurity culture you have on your farm.

  2. Documenting the steps you take to protect the health of your flock.

Veterinarians who receive reports of clinical signs of avian influenza, should call the Minnesota Avian Influenza Hotline at 833-454-0156 or submit a sick bird report online. If it is after hours or on the weekend, call the Minnesota duty officer at 800-422-0798. Subsequent HPAI cases will be posted on the board’s website.

The BAH reminds consumers that poultry is safe to eat, and proper handling and cooking of poultry and eggs to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F is always advised.

Minnesota Board of Animal Health and the University of Minnesota Extension contributed to this article.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like