It is great to see interest in poultry and at Michigan Allied Poultry Industries we support anyone who wants to learn more about poultry.

I recently read the article “Backyard Chickens: Program allows residents to produce local food” (Sentinel, March 31), with interest as our organization represents all commercial chicken, egg layer and turkey farms in Michigan.

It is great to see interest in poultry and at Michigan Allied Poultry Industries we support anyone who wants to learn more about poultry.

As many know, the poultry industry is central to the economy of West Michigan and contributes over $1.6 billion to economic activity in Michigan. Our producers house and care for more than 15 million laying hens, 6 million turkeys and 6 million chicken broilers.

There are some important public health and bird health components that were not addressed in the article:

Poultry Diseases

Our poultry farms take all diseases seriously. Of specific mention is the devastating 2014-15 highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreak experienced here in the United States. It is very important that backyard flock owners know the signs of infectious bird diseases. Some diseases are transmitted through migratory wildfowl, which may intermingle with backyard poultry. If birds show unusual signs of disease or die unexpectedly, flock owners need to report the suspected illness to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. This step is critical in keeping their birds and the local farmer’s birds safe and healthy.

Biosecurity

Practicing good biosecurity is vital in protecting all birds by reducing the chances of an infectious disease being spread. As we are in the midst of the spring migration season, our producers are enacting strict biosecurity principles to ensure their flocks stay safe and free from disease. There are precautions that backyard flock owners can take to protect their birds as well. This includes washing hands, clothing and shoes anytime they have been exposed to live poultry. Do not wear shoes or clothing worn when taking care of chickens to public places, like restaurants, post office, farm supply stores, etc. Clean up feed spills that may attract wildfowl or rodents.

Salmonella Infections

Backyard flock owners should be aware that chickens may carry salmonella. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently reported an increase in salmonella from backyard chickens.

From 1990-2005 the CDC recorded only one outbreak. From 2006-14 the CDC recorded 53 outbreaks of confirmed salmonellosis from live contact with poultry. Those outbreaks were responsible for 2,600 illnesses, 387 hospitalizations and 5 fatalities. The CDC has identified inappropriate practices with poultry that brought owners and children into intimate contact with birds. Approximately 49 percent of patients admitted that live poultry were allowed access into their homes, including the living room (22 percent) and bedroom (10 percent). Another 49 percent acknowledged snuggling baby birds and 13 percent kissed baby birds. It’s important to note that turtles, iguanas, snakes and chickens have the potential to carry salmonella and are not appropriate as pets, especially for children.

The CDC recommends the following to backyard flock owners:

    • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Also, wash your hands after handling clothes and shoes that have touched live poultry. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands with soap and water.
    • Do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.
    • Do not eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
    • Children younger than 5, adults older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry. People in these groups are more likely to have a severe illness from salmonella infection.
    • Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.
    • Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for live poultry, such as cages, feed, or water containers.

We ask all poultry owners to join us in practicing good biosecurity for the safety of all flocks and families.

Lastly, supporting local farmers in our community is easy when you live in Michigan. We all benefit from the bounty of locally grown foods, fresh from our state’s family farmers. Our local egg producers offer many fresh egg options for all Michiganders!

— Allison Brink is the Executive Director at Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, Inc. She can be reached by emailing her at info@mipoultry.com.

SOURCE: Holland Sentinel.

Michigan Allied Poultry Industries is a producer-led organization that serves and represents over 50 Michigan family-owned poultry farms with more than 15 million laying hens, 6 million chicken broilers, and 5.3 million turkeys represented.  Michigan Allied Poultry is committed to the advancement and prosperity of the poultry industry through advocacy, education and development.

Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, Inc.
PO Box 144
Hamilton, MI 49419
Office: 517.372.5250
info@mipoultry.com