Farm Progress

Iowa Department of Ag urges all poultry farms to be on lookout following confirmation of this disease re-emerging in the U.S.

Rod Swoboda 1, Editor, Wallaces Farmer

March 19, 2018

4 Min Read
BIOSECURITY: With some cases of avian influenza showing up in Missouri and Texas last week, ag officials in Iowa are cautioning poultry farmers to take extra precautions and use biosecurity measures.

A couple cases of avian influenza were recently confirmed on poultry farms in Missouri and Texas. These are low-pathogenic strains, which means the birds don’t show any outward signs. The good thing about these latest findings of “bird flu” is these cases were discovered in routine testing in the two states, so the warning system is working.

“In Iowa, we also do routine testing for avian influenza,” says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “Even so, turkey, egg and broiler producers in Iowa need to watch their flocks closely and be on the lookout for possible symptoms. Always be prepared and keep using biosecurity practices. Many of our turkey and egg production flocks were decimated by the huge bird flu outbreak in 2015.”

All livestock premises should be registered
The Iowa Department of Ag recommends all livestock and poultry premises that have an official identification number. You can get that ID for free by calling the department. The department is also contacting farmers who have previously registered their livestock farms, urging these farmers to update their premises registration. Farmers are asked to respond to the letter and either confirm the information is correct or respond with their updated information.

Farmers can update their premises information or find how to get a premise ID number online or by calling 888-778-7675.

Biosecurity is something to keep updated on your farm as the industry — turkey, egg and broiler producers — has made significant advancements to improve biosecurity in recent years, Naig says. “However, the threat of avian flu is always out there. It is necessary to stay on top of it by taking the latest biosecurity steps.”

While ongoing biosecurity efforts made by Iowa turkey, egg and broiler farmers are important, so are preparations undertaken by agencies on state and federal levels in case a bird flu outbreak occurs.

Avian flu spread by migrating water fowl
The low-pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) virus strains occur naturally in wild migratory waterfowl and shorebirds without causing illness, Naig says. LPAI can occur in domestic poultry, with little or no signs of illness.

However, there is the potential for low pathogenic viruses to evolve into highly pathogenic viruses, which are extremely infectious, often fatal to domestic poultry, and can spread rapidly from flock to flock. Thus, it is important to monitor and respond to both low-path and high-path avian influenza detections.

“The low-path avian influenza cases in Missouri and Texas highlight the risks facing poultry producers,” says Naig. “We’ve seen poultry farms investing in biosecurity improvements in recent years to protect their birds and keep them healthy. That’s a concern all year long, but as we enter the spring migration season of wild birds it’s important that poultry farming operations remain diligent in their biosecurity efforts.”

Iowa turkey, egg and broiler farmers have updated their biosecurity measures and made significant investments to help prevent the disease from getting on their farm, he notes. They focus every day on biosecurity in recognition of the potential that avian influenza and other diseases are always a risk. All poultry farms need to have a biosecurity plan to qualify for USDA indemnification.

Iowa's egg, turkey and broiler companies have implemented companywide biosecurity plans. 

The Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has information to help farmers update biosecurity measures on the farm. Guidelines and suggestions are at

Emergency preparations continue
The Iowa Department of Agriculture continues efforts to update response plans for potential animal disease emergencies. As part of those efforts, the department hired an emergency management veterinarian for Iowa.

The department received an additional $100,000 from the Iowa Legislature to support preparations for a foreign animal disease outbreak and a portion of that funding is being used for this position. This new position supports the department’s efforts to ensure emergency response plans are up to date, organize disease response exercises and work with industry partners.

The Iowa Response to Avian Influenza operates under a unified command involving the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services.  “We also work closely with the poultry industry as well as other state agencies, including Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa Department of Natural Resources,” says Naig.

Links for additional information:
• Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
• USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
• Iowa State University Egg Industry Center





About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda 1

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Rod, who has been a member of the editorial staff of Wallaces Farmer magazine since 1976, was appointed editor of the magazine in April 2003. He is widely recognized around the state, especially for his articles on crop production and soil conservation topics, and has won several writing awards, in addition to honors from farm, commodity and conservation organizations.

"As only the tenth person to hold the position of Wallaces Farmer editor in the past 100 years, I take seriously my responsibility to provide readers with timely articles useful to them in their farming operations," Rod says.

Raised on a farm that is still owned and operated by his family, Rod enjoys writing and interviewing farmers and others involved in agriculture, as well as planning and editing the magazine. You can also find Rod at other Farm Progress Company activities where he has responsibilities associated with the magazine, including hosting the Farm Progress Show, Farm Progress Hay Expo and the Iowa Master Farmer program.

A University of Illinois grad with a Bachelors of Science degree in agriculture (ag journalism major), Rod joined Wallaces Farmer after working several years in Washington D.C. as a writer for Farm Business Incorporated.

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