In this episode of Chats with the Chatfields, Dr. Jen the vet and Dr. Jason discuss the threat of high path avian influenza and how backyard poultry owners can protect their flocks. Joining them is Dr. Karen Grogan, a leading expert in avian medicine, who shares her insights on biosecurity measures that can prevent the spread of the virus.
From disinfecting equipment and maintaining a closed flock, to identifying signs of illness and reporting outbreaks, the panel offers practical advice for anyone raising chickens or other birds. Whether you're a seasoned poultry keeper or just getting started, you won't want to miss this important episode.
Helpful links mentioned in the show:
Defend the flock!
More on Dr. Karen Grogan: https://online.uga.edu/faculty/karen-burns-grogan
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Hello, welcome to this episode of chats with the Chatfields. This is a podcast to expand your idea of what impacts veterinarians, pet owners, and basically all animal lovers in the galaxy as humans. We are your hosts. I'm Dr. Jen the vet.
And I'm Dr. Jason.
And if you have not yet subscribed to our show
Just go to Chatfieldshow.com And subscribe today. And if you want to reach us and you've got a message full of love and positivity, you can find me at Jen@Chatfieldshow.com
and for everyone else that has some real questions about some real life stuff. You can reach me at Jason@Chatfieldshow.com.
Okay, well, friend into the chat room. Today, we have one of my friends and a friend of the show. We're going to be talking to her about backyard poultry. And like something that is all over the headlines today. Jason, do you know what it is? Did you read your notes?
We have notes? I would have read them if I had known we had 'em. I have some backyard poultry. So I'm very excited to learn exactly how I'm doing wrong stuff.
Okay, this is terrible people like our production team puts together notes for every episode, so that we can appear prepared. And Dr. Jason just shows up, which
that is not true. I took a shower. I didn't just show up.
Okay. Okay, well, but in fairness, he does know more about this than I do, because he does indeed have a backyard chicken.
That remains to be seen
in his backyard. However, we don't know all that we should know, I guess. And so we bring in an expert as always to chat with us. So let's welcome her in. This is our friend, Dr. Karen Grogan. She is a clinical associate professor and graduate coordinator for the Department of population health and poultry diagnostic and Research Center at the University of Georgia. And she gets to do all that, because she's a board certified poultry veterinarian. And she's got a unique background and an incredible skill level in the biologics industry. She's worked with federal health programs, she's worked with academia. And this is my favorite thing about her. She is the founder and CO veterinarian of a consulting firm called wait for it. chicken scratch. That's right, chicken scratch.
That's a great name, right?
I know. And she's also instead of like, aside of being one of the most clever people I know, clearly. She is what she calls herself a Mom-inarian. Because she's
one of my daughters came up with that name. It's actually very cute.
Yes, it is. It is. And that was when they were much younger, and now they're much older. Oh, they're teenagers now. That's all that's all we want to talk about that it makes us all feel old. But anyway, so welcome to the show. Welcome back to the show, I should say Dr. Grogan. So let's, let's let's like take this off the table first. Is it okay to have like backyard chickens or? I mean, chickens in the front yard?
Or chickens in your yard everywhere? Yes. Okay. No, they totally it's, it's a it's, I don't know necessarily how economical it is. It does cost you a lot. But there is a definite, you know, return to people wanting to especially during the COVID pandemic, a lot of people got chickens because they were home more. And so a huge surge in the rise of sort of, you know, backyard types of flocks been chicken, the urban chicken. Yeah. And I think I think we are starting to see it decline again, because they realize they create a lot of ways they are they get sick, like they're not, you know, they're not cats, they're assets that will live through everything. There's a lot of things that want to come and eat them. You know, they are prey for a lot of predators that are out there. So free range in your yard,
but eggs are almost $27 Each now so you might as well get prices down. The price is down $26
I saw last week it's down to like back to like $2 a debit. We're back at the real egg prices again. It's
almost normal. Yeah,
I know it's back to normal. And the predictions are that it's gonna continue to well, it's gonna go up because next week is Easter prices, restaurant Easter for the holidays, and everybody's dying eggs. So it'll probably bump up for Easter, but then it should start to normalize even more. So it becomes very, you know, by theta chicken feed is expensive. And they cannot. Although what people may tell you they cannot survive on your table scraps alone. That is not personally balanced diet.
You're not going to get good egg production out of that chicken.
Yeah, it's not the food super expensive because they eat almost nothing. They're just the most inefficient eaters in the world you can get they're just super lazy make a mess or
don't have teeth.
Actually, I thought okay, so this is funny because I get what you're saying Jason and of course, Dr. Grogan does because he made a mess. They do make a mess because they scratch around scratch. But actually, aren't they the most efficient are the inverters like Yes.
Okay, okay. Okay, nerds with eight letters. That's not what I'm talking about. All right, I'm not gonna get biology and physiology. Oh, like their energy. I just, when you give them a pound of food. Know the like, you know, to Carl's board, you get they got a whole panel like the worst, right?
they tend to be especially like backyard Fox. They are like grazers, right? Like, they'll come and they'll eat and then they'll go around and then they'll, you know, come back they'll go get a drink of water. Like their natural behavior is to eat get a drink of water and then go like sit that's their normal like cycle. So they'll do that like every couple of hours. And
that's it. I'm not not gonna have a backyard chickens by any means. So I don't think you have to defend them. I love I love mine. But they're, they make a mess in an efficient and I'm standing by it. Okay.
I like I buy I buy by your viewpoint. Yeah.
Okay, so, um, I guess I guess around Easter. Also, a lot of people will get a check, right? Because they're super
Yeah, they're in the Tractor Supply and Baby ducks. And there's baby chickens. And then people don't know what to do with them. Yeah, we unfortunately, those will end up like animal shelters and things like that. And they do try to rehome them. And you probably have one laying people that already have Fox and they'll they'll get them. My one just thing is, you know, after you hold them, and they're cute, just please go wash your hands.
Like, don't let go. Don't let them
know. Like, unfortunately, they carry naturally occurring bacteria in their gut that can make people sick. So there are animals there. Yes. And a lot of animals carry bacteria that make can make people sick. So do
a lot of humans. Yeah, true. Yeah. So
you got to think viruses. And yeah, just wash your hands.
After touching those. You got to wash your hands.
Same for reptile. I mean, there's a lot of you know, things. Yes, just
wash. Wash your hands. Don't lick it. Yeah, don't hang out with it. If it's sick.
I mean, you would do with it with your dog and cat and everything. Chickens are great. I love them. They're great. They're really funny to watch. They're just funny animals. They're so funny.
They're super funny. And they're, well anyway, so I think they're interesting. So what we're gonna do today, folks, is we're gonna talk about some of the things you need to be aware of if you're thinking of getting a backyard flock, or even if you already have one, maybe you didn't know it's a good refresher, if you didn't know. So whether you are a well seasoned chicken donor or a new one, we're going to have some lovely pearls for you, because we're also going to talk about this thing that's been in the press lately. Although it was also in the press in 2014 15. And so we're going to talk about the high path avian influenza. And if you have chickens and you don't know about it, while we take a short break, I want you to go Google it. Okay. Well, I mean, listen to our break, because we love our sponsors, but Google
it feel like you're talking to me.
You're in the no J's. That's
right. I was gonna say just Google it. Another another oft visitor to the chat room, Dr. Martin would say get the Google are going to you so that you have a little understanding. But yeah, we're going to talk about high path avian influenza, and what it means to or doesn't mean to our backyard poultry loving friends, so hang out. We'll be right back after a short break. And we're gonna get some tips and tricks for your backyard poultry. Dr. Jen, the vet, and I'm here with my friend and colleague, Dr. Keith lassen. He's got an incredibly interesting story all about full bucket helps
my college roommate and that school, housemate. Dr. Rob Franklin and I were collaborating on some cases, both of us were struggling with diarrhea in some of our patients, whether it was after a procedure or after after an illness. So we created a formulation but we didn't want to just create a formulation. We also wanted to create a movement and animal health, for being able to help animals in need through the use of bar products that we develop that really has resulted in our one for one giving program which we're we're Really proud of as much as we are our formulations for dogs versus cats.
And so if you want to know more about their one for when giving it full bucket, or if you're interested in better supporting your dog cat or horses, digestive health head over to full bucket health.com to learn more. Okay, and we're back and we're still talking chickens. Okay, so we're going to jump right into we already we've already established that it's a okay to have backyard chickens of course check out your local zoning requirements, homeowners associations, etc. Good point.
They almost they almost all say no poultry. Just make sure you don't get a rooster because most of them listen I'm gonna I'm gonna get your H away by any means. Right that I have every single time but if you have one they just did. I don't want roosters crowing wake up the neighbors that's pretty much they don't care if you have chicken pins running around. Sometimes it'll make noise.
Right? And you don't need the rooster. A lot of people have a misconception that you need the boy not need the rooster. The hens will continue to lay eggs. You only need the rooster if you want fertile eggs to hatch eventually which most people don't they want it eggs to eat. So yes, you're not need the rooster but what's like a friend of mine who just got chicken she was like, Oh, but I want the roosters. I think they're so pretty and they love their noise and I was like okay,
what it was like having a male goat right.
And all that happens when you get chicks. You know, you don't know their sex until later. So people get the oh wow, that one's a risk because they start crewing you know within a couple of months. You know pretty quick. Oh no. Yeah.
Well, actually, what they usually get is Oh, god, they're all roosters, right. Yeah, the likelihood of getting a rooster when you're buying at the feed store really high. Pretty high. Yeah. So Alright, anyway, so there's all kinds of breeds there that we could talk about and all of this but I'm just going to clean that up quickly so we can get to the things that I think are more interesting yet.
So the interesting thing Yes, the diseases
is tell me your favorite chicken Brian.
Hey for it. My favorite chicken breed is the Buff Orpington.
The Buff Orpington. And if you're if you're watching our YouTube channel, right now you're seeing a picture of a Buff Orpington. So hey, podcast listeners head to YouTube. Check it out. Buff Orpington.
And you're considered like a like a dual purpose breed. Okay, like meaning they have good egg production.
But and you can eat him.
Yes. You know, there's, They're big. They're very docile. Like they're just a very like kind of social breed. They come frequently like and kind of like these mixed breeds that you can buy from like a chick supplier. And they just have a very cool like tan color. Yeah, that's the buff, buff. Buff.
Those checked all the boxes for my chicken. Right.
Okay, so have you but I have one more question. Have you heard of these? They're called Death layers. So they are chickens. That lay. And right up until the day they die.
Oh, wow. Yeah, that's good. Usually they get sick. And they'll stop laying before that. Yeah, yeah. Yeah,
they kind of aged out a little bit. They don't produce as well and they don't lay as many
and actually it's kind of funny, you know, all this stuff that's kind of been in the press and like this conspiracy theory about like, the feed was making it like,
I'm in tears. She could you you read those things? That can really happen. Don't give up right.
Educate me. Apparently, I didn't see a conspiracy.
So this Candace Owens, uh, when I went like a very, you know, conservative. Yeah. So she even talks about on her show that like the big big companies like Purina put something in the feed to make all the chickens stop laying eggs. Yeah, they could drive up egg prices like that was their conspiracy theory of why egg prices went up, has nothing to do with the a the highly pathogenic avian influenza and I don't know, why can't housing wiping out large layer flocks? It has nothing to do with that. But I think what we saw happen was all these people that got chickens during the pandemic, right. And their flocks had never malted, we had extreme cold temperatures, which caused their flocks to mold and go out of egg production. Yeah. And they had never experienced it before. Right. So it was just like this, you know?
So isn't that a totally naturally occurring naturally occurring is totally normal for chickens. But so many people had chickens that didn't know.
Yeah, and they didn't know that they will go out of production seasonally. But yes, that is a normal natural chicken occurrence. You can't live all the tight and they will, but they'll lay for a couple of years and then it happens for the first time and it throws people off. And it totally times exactly right that these people got chicks during the pandemic. And then this was the first winter that their chickens malted. And so there they are there. Yes. So now they're back to lay eggs and everybody's happy. But in the meantime, people were blaming Purina and Tractor Supply and it was the feed
because we must have a reason. Right? And it can't be that this is totally
not it's always the government. I think it's hilarious that people don't listen, I don't mind Candace Owens. I didn't know she talked about it on her on whatever outlet she has read it on on some other stuff and heard about it. I couldn't believe I think people if they thought, oh my gosh, government's controlling the price of eggs by putting stuff into big time trouble, right? Yeah, we are as as a society monsters give up say you own us do whatever you want.
Yes. Wow, that's incredible. Okay, so but let's let's let's get to that, because there's a normal things that happen. And so if you if you have a backyard chicken, so we're just going to kick like hit kind of the high points. So there's, there's some normal things that go on with backyard chickens that you should know, right? So like I've had, if you get your chick, and they're so cute, then they grow up. When did they start laying?
Oh, excellent question. They can start laying anywhere from like, it's usually like 16 to 20 weeks of age. So like that for? Yeah. And it depends on the breed that's all a little bit different. And it depends on like, if they're reared in commercial setting, or backyard blog, but somewhere in that four to five month time period, though, they'll start to lay eggs. And they'll slowly kind of come into egg production. Meaning they may lay like every couple of days as they start. It's just their, their reproductive system kind of warming up. And you may see all kinds of weird eggs at that different shades. Like no, little round. Yeah, and it won't have a yoke at it. So sometimes it's just like everything getting coordinated. So they're not good at it yet. They're gonna practice Yeah, they gotta practice like learning how to ride a bike, they gotta practice. But then eventually, they'll get to what we call peak production, and they'll start laying an egg every day. So that's the other thing most people don't understand is that each chicken is going to lay an egg every day. Yeah, like one egg every 24 hour cycle. Yeah. And
what do most people think is gonna happen? They're gonna lay like, 12 in a day.
Yeah, I don't. Okay, that part. I don't I think they just, they're like, Oh, I'm gonna get chickens. And they don't research it. Yeah, it's just like the same people. I'm gonna go get a puppy because it's cute. And they don't research. Yeah, I think that's evolved.
I think most people don't, they don't cheat in one way or the other. They have no idea what they're less than a puppy. But they have no idea
what owned a dog. A lot of people have not own chicken.
Or you could ask your neighbor but if you're bucking the HOA, you can't really ask you got to keep it a
secret. You got to bribe your neighbors.
And the guy with a trench coat opens it up, says Hey, wanna buy a chicken?
You want to buy a lot of people like giving them away. And then you know, in a lot of a lot of states they have these swap meets Yeah, where they kind of in the back of their pickup truck. And then that's where we get all the things spread. If you go buy chickens of Swap Meet care for to keep them quarantined from the rest of your flock for 30 days.
Okay, and so that's a great tip. So if you already have chickens and you want to add another one or another three, then no matter where you are, I would say no matter where matter where you get it from, yeah, I don't care where it comes from the answer extra bad. But meats are extra bad just because you don't you know even less of where they came from, where and how they've been held. And maybe they had him at the swap meet two days ago somewhere else exposed to other chickens thing and so it's not you can get great animals great birds from the swap meet. Yes, you just need to be aware. Yes, they can also get dangerous. You can also get crappy ones right? But you can also get crappy ones from you know, a feed someone's
or whatever. Yeah, the feed store like yeah, feed stores will tend to have baby chicks but then there's a lot of ways Facebook marketplace so yes, auctions flea market swap meets where you can buy adult birds, either already inlay or what we call a bullet that's about to come into production. And you just have to be cautious. You want to keep them separated from your existing clock because you gotta
keep them separated. Yes. Yeah.
So separate most people what don't have that setup either. So
in separate doesn't mean just put a fence between them it means you can't let them touch each other. Oh
touching. And a lot of the diseases are spread through like their eye and nasal secretions. So common water is a source that they spread disease. So like separate means often another pen, you know, with separate feet of water.
Yep, agree. Okay, so that's one thing and you said 30 days 30 days now listen, my citizen loving friends all the bird lovers that are listening who were like what? 30 day? You okay? It's different for chickens. Okay. 30 day 45 For your citizens 30 days so yes, yeah crushes on the internet
psittacine Birds longer, they have diseases that have a longer, like kind of incubation disease and incubation period. You're the you're the infectious disease lady, not me.
Yes, I do love them. I don't have them the infectious diseases but I love them.
Okay, like to talk about?
Yes. Okay, so, Jason, what's like, what's your question? Do you got one?
I don't I have question about chickens. I have. I have. I have some advice for people. Oh, I love that. Who don't have never had chickens? Okay, I think they know about chickens. If you get chicken you should talk about when they go Brut when they go when they become broody? Because it's very different scares almost I only know this because we had chickens when he was going on but all of our friends got chickens because we got up and they're like oh my god my chickens gonna die. I'm like no, let me guess. Doesn't want to move to that Yes. Had a very depressed How did you not well, it's super common and Pinchas doing the right thing so not depressed.
Okay. Me and Mama's
Yeah. It will scare you. You know, the first time you go through it, but if you've never had a chicken so what does
that mean? What's happening Dr. Grogan? What's happening with him? So people say their chickens broody chick
their chip their hen has become broody and broodiness is another natural behavior where the hen wants to sit on a clutch of eggs. That is their natural behavior. They lay what's called a clutch and then they will stop producing and they want to sit and incubate the eggs, which takes 21 days,
or they were ever if they're
if they're fertile, 21 day. Yeah, another fun fact. A turkey egg takes 28 days. That is a fun fact. eggs don't hatch in the same amount of days. So it depends on the bird species.
Yes. And the temperature and humidity. A little bit. Yeah, a
lot of it. So I don't hatch if you don't get those things. Right. So broodiness is but they can get pretty aggressive like if you try to reach in and move them the head. lutronic come after you. Yeah. So to prevent broodiness, you have to make sure you collect eggs every day. Ah, that's the way to keep it from happening.
So to keep your relationship healthy and friendly, take her eggs,
eggs, take her eggs away every day, every day. So that's what happens is like let's say you go on vacation for three or four days. And you don't have someone come pick up the eggs. Then that's when it tends to you come
back and you can't find your chicken because she's on her nest because she now has three or four eggs. And she will pick the tar out of your hand when you take them. Yep, she should. But you can take them but it's okay to take them like you just did they reach under right.
There are lots of yeah, there are lots of tricks out there. You can YouTube it on how to try to break the broodiness. Okay, how to cycle so
just be aware that it exists molting and broodiness. People don't usually don't have a clue about and it scares.
The other thing that I have been. I have had friends like are, you know, are the kind of social network they have. The other thing that people people get shocked about is if they have a rooster and ahead people have no idea how birds actually mate. How chicken Oh, how
breeding occurs. So the other natural behavior that people were like, what does she do? And it's hints kind of get this like squatty posture? Yes, they are receptive for the rooster. And people don't know what that behavior is. They're like, why is she just sitting there still on the ground? Like
it's kind of like a cat. Right? When if you've ever seen a cat, they do weird things because they Yes, right. But we're not here to judge
No. Well, we are here to see behavior. It's not pleasant. Right, right. Like that's not how it happens in my world. That's
right. So I have another conversations I've had to explain that process right? Adult I'm in their
life I know it's awful.
Anyway Oh, that's when you truly are the mom and Arian
I have to explain it to everybody Yeah, to explain the
birds not the bees but the birds. And you know what, for the bees, you call our friend and your colleague Meyer
because like, trying to take Viva we'll jelly and bee venom as like treatments for things
not trying. He's doing it's very successful. Yeah, I know. I know. Stay tuned friends for another
episode. But you're gonna type
IV therapy is called NP therapy. It's really cool. Anyway, okay, so yes, so shout out to our friend George. And his amazing things. Also, you could also catch his interview with Gayle King.
Oh, he was interviewed by gay Okay,
he was, I know. Okay, so Googler get the Googler. Okay, so we have molting. So we didn't explain molting though, but and that's what happened that was like the egg conspiracy. The chickens revolting. So what happened?
molting is a natural pause and egg production, okay, with or without feather loss. So think that's the thing people didn't know. Yeah, true molting occurs, the birds will actually drop their feathers. And it just, it naturally happens. They can, they can only, you know, basically produce eggs continuously for so long. And their body needs to take a pause. Yeah, chickens can live for years, you know, 678, you know, but they cannot kind of keep up that production. So they go through a natural process called molting, they will lose some of their feathers, maybe not all of them. So you'll see feathers around the yard, and they will stop producing eggs. And it typically times as the day link starts to get shorter as we go into the winter. So it's definitely a photo period response. And then they will stop laying eggs. And then as the day length gets longer, so this time of year, they will come back into egg production.
Okay, so it's a brief it's, it's a fairly brief pause for all of the metabolic energy that goes into producing an egg and then doing it at such a regular and consistent rate. It's It's pretty incredible. How chickens do that eating basically nothing, right? I mean, I mean, they do eat people, give them give them food and stuff.
And give them give them like a nutritionally balanced like layer ration like something you are buying in a bag or from direct from a female and then you can supplement with the fun things. Okay, so it is a supplement. It's okay to supplement with the fun things like your table scraps and like you see people hanging cabbages and watermelons and giving them the pumpkins after Halloween. All totally fine. Okay, that cannot be their sole diet, because it's fun to
watch them eat. Oh. So far they love
like aluminum cans. Oh, yeah. Do you drink a soda can like, like they love to pack. They're super naturally curious. But people that give things like either cracked corn I was I saw a case the other day the the owner had just fed cracked corn that's not a balanced diet. No. Like you will have a nutritional deficiency and just pick one grain. Or you have people that are sometimes just like they have them free range. And they'll give them what's called Scratch grains, which are like a tree, right? And that's not nutritionally bound, right? They're only really only geese can be pasture raised, meaning they can derive their nutrition from grass. Yeah, thank chickens, it's only like 10 to 15% of their diet can come from being pasture raised. Yeah, you can't depend on the grass and the bugs and the like, you know, that's what people think they're going to eat and you cannot depend on
whether they're gonna eat that. They're going to eat that, but they need more than any more
than one or two. They need some meals,
one layer pellet a day.
And that's, that's the other thing. So if you're using your chicken, if you're getting your chickens because you want eggs, Hey, give them the stuff they need to make a good eggs. And that's a layer pellet. So one that is for chickens that are laying versus just plain old chicken let
boy Yes, yeah. And actually most feed stores their their diets formulated for basically where they are. So you need a starter when they're to Kickstarter. And then you need like a what they call it developer kind of diet, like as they're coming into production that late, that allows them to build strong bones. The bones are really important for laying eggs, that's where they pull their calcium from. And they have to develop the right kind of bone. And then you would have a layer kind of ration. So make sure you're giving the right thing. And if you have multiple stages, they usually have, you know, kind of one that would would go across a couple of different ages and stages of production. But the Kickstarter is really important because the
Kickstarter is important in writing ratio
layer things. Yes. Yeah.
started growing with me and all that stuff. Yeah,
yeah. And then the end in the Lair, I think and that's one thing I think also people forget. So it's a little it's like it's like puppies and kittens. If people can relate to that, like you feed puppy puppy chow or puppy food, and then you feed grownup dog food and then you might feed senior dog food. Almost every other animal, right? Yeah. Including us, right? Especially Yes.
I can't wait to graduate to an adult diet.
No, no. Are you still eating versus very
old chicken tenders and hotdogs and getting tired of
yes, he really really is. This is He's not joking, folks. Okay, so Alright, so now we're gonna get down to the nitty gritty, nitty gritty, which is that there is no magical pet that never will get sick ever. You need to have a relationship with a veterinarian that is willing to see your chickens and manage them as a backyard flock. And so, what I would like to jump to let's talk about because I think this is the biggest risk that backyard poultry owners don't don't seem to understand or know about. And you correct me if I'm wrong, because you talk to him all the time. I think the risk from wild birds like free ranging birds, Tweety birds, because usually if you if you like birds, you like all birds. And so the Tweety birds that come in to migrating birds, they're all birds that can have an impact on your chickens in the backyard. And so just like you keep quarantine new chickens without them having any interaction with your existing chickens. Right. You should be aware of contact that your backyard chickens have with wild birds. Wild Rice.
And people don't know that.
They don't know that is correct. So we encompass all of that into this large concept called biosecurity. Right. So all of this falls under an umbrella called biosecurity. There are diseases that can be cured by all kinds of things that they can interact with. Wild Birds carry a couple of bacterial diseases like Carozza, and mycoplasma, and we know that contact with wild birds can carry those. Then there are also a couple of what we very serious viruses that were especially experiencing an outbreak of right now since 2022. And continuing right now, highly pathogenic avian influenza. And also there's another virus, Newcastle disease that can be carried by wild bird populations, but right now in the US, and really across the globe, across the globe, France and Europe, and now it is spreading to Latin America. Is this highly pathogenic avian influenza and listen up?
Listen up, folks. This is not me dragging my soapbox out for influenza again. But we are seeing I don't know if they're just covering it better. And so it's popping in the press more often? Because I haven't drilled down into the numbers. We are seeing more humans infected with avian influenza in the past 12 months.
Yeah. And it's really increased, I'd say the past like two months. Yes. There's been a report of a human infection in Asia. I think it's Cambodia. Yep. And it was an h3 into one. There's one in Chile. Which is this h five in one. Yep. And that they seem to be like, what we consider like point Intrado. Like, yep, it becomes infected, but then it's not continuing to spread.
Right. And for the rest of us explain why that's bigger, a bigger deal than just normal influenza that we always get, like, what's the big deal here? What have you guys certainly not.
The big deal is is all influenza is can sometimes cross the species barrier. So they're considered zoonotic. So in this case, this is considered an avian influenza, because its origin is from the bird population. So it's an avian influenza basical, though, into people right, I
would say. So, actually, all influenza is originated with birds, birds, all of them. Yeah. 100%. And so we we call them avian or we call them equine or, or we call them canine because that out for Yes, lately. Yes. So so when we talk about avian influenza infection and a person it's because birds Avians were the most recent species that it jumped from. Right? So if you remember 2009 H went in when they called it swine flu, I'm going appropriately right. And appropriately, it was a people pick disease, but it most recently had been in circulating in pigs until it jumped to people, right. And so they call this avian influenza in a person because it most recently jumped from birds into people. But what it has not yet developed is the capacity for human to human transmission. But we're waiting.
This virus this virus has developed some new capacities. Yes, it has definitely changed from our traditional understanding of these h5 influenzas, in that typically in wild bird population, or wild bird infected wild waterfowl were the natural carriers. They would have the low path version, they would shed the virus it would get into commercial poultry and then we would see it become highly pathogenic. If that was the natural epidemiology of the virus,
right, and that just means when we say low pass and high pass low pathogenic means it produces a small amount of mild disease. Truly what it means is it's usually only infecting the respiratory tract or the GI tract. And then when in action, right, when it becomes high path or highly pathogenic avian influenza, it's basically all all throughout the bird like every
effectiveness. Yeah, so it's bad for the birds. And it's also bad for the humans like, right when humans when we have, is it really bad? I'm trying to get it. You guys are saying all this stuff. And we get fleeced. Talk about the flu all the time. What's the big deal about high path? Avian Flu? Who cares? The flu, so birds can give it to his grandmother? But if it's high mortality, that's why we have to worry about it. And yeah, okay, just have to get that out there, you're probably assuming everybody knows that not everybody knows that. Well,
and the other impact, at least from an animal health standpoint is all of this is, you know, basically defined by we have one Global Animal Health Authority World Organization for Animal Health, right. So they distinguish this in terms of like, how it's reported by countries. And then within each country, like we have to follow those the same definitions of what the case like what how, yeah, how the case is and how it's reported. And then now they've actually changed how we report it within poultry. But it there is a difference, and basically, sort of the mortality that occurs from the two versions of the virus. Yeah. And then in most countries, we report the low path versions if they're at age five, or an age seven. So we know those two have the ability to basically transform into the highly pathogenic version. So we want to monitor for those. So the US has a robust surveillance system for those two viruses all the time, not just an outbreak situation. We've had that for years. We're looking for that all the time in the bank, commercial flocks in commercial flocks, and in migratory birds to have Yes, our friends at the Fisheries and Wildlife Service. They're monitoring it all the time. They go up into Alaska and into Canada into the breeding ground, because that's usually yep, that's where it usually hangs out and hugs out and we want to know, and then the hi path version is a federally reportable disease and the federal government so our friends at USDA, animal Plant Health Inspection Service, APHIS, they come in the veterinary services division, even more specifically, they come in and control the response. And that's what makes it different.
And, and what's the response Dr. Grogan?
The response is our current regulatory response is what we call stamping out mean we want to try to stop the virus where it is. Okay, so if a flock test positive, the flock is humanely depopulated, they go see Jesus. Yes, yes. So and those depopulation guidelines are published by our friends at the American Veterinary Medical Association. And they are all carefully evaluated by scientists. In the key part of this is we want to do that process quickly, like within 24 hours, because they want the virus to stay right there.
But here's the thing. Here's the thing, and, and everyone don't hate on the process. Right. Right. Or the player here, right. Don't hate Dr. Grogan because she just shared that our national response to confirmed diagnosis of high path avian influenza in a commercial flock or any flock or anything
back. This Yes, your backyard chickens. Yes, if there
is depopulation, which means they kill your chickens. Yes, but here's here's the thing that they don't talk about. They almost a lot of times can't get there fast enough because the high path avian influenza kills your birds first. Yes. So by the time you diagnose it, your peers are dead. They are so
majority of the flock will die. It's like 90% mortality that is wrapped plan around news. No bad news, bad news. So the virus is going to kill a majority of your flock anyway, but in order to control the disease and prevent this from becoming even more of an outbreak than it is our best tool is to you know depopulate the flock populate the flock. And because the the fecal droppings from a positive bird carry so much virus. Yeah. And all it takes is a person to step into that and carry it into your neighbor's spot and then you've just carried that virus to that flock
because we know chicken scratch around. Yeah, we know they scratch around. They're messy. fencers are going to find it. So the best thing that you can do at all times, even when we're not in the face of an outbreak is what?
is a pretty open ended loaded.
I know where she's going. You want dedicated footwear for your flock. And this is not just for avian influenza. This is for things like salmonella, all kinds of things. You want to wear the same pair of boots out to take care of your chickens. And that's the only place you wear it. So we're into town, don't wear. Don't wear them to your neighbors do not wear them in your house for your kids to lick the floor. Yes,
that's no hiking in those boats. Don't Don't do it.
No dedicated footwear. That is the number one place there's actually a study out of Europe that is showing this avian influenza it was like a five year study. This avian influenza virus has been carried by people on to farms. Okay, so I'm on how we know it's carried.
So I want to clarify, you're saying I have chickens in my backyard. I need to have dedicated footwear. What am I chickens really are just in my backyard with my dogs and pitcher's mound and the basketball hoop?
Yes. And that's what a lot of people it however you have, maybe you don't, but most people have a coop or a pig.
What do you mean, maybe I don't
when you go into the coop,
I can't go into chicken sized. But
that when you have like a run, so you're going to work with your chicken right? To either collect eggs or you're going to clean out their manure, we're going to do those things. That's when you need where exactly the like, you know, if you're going to do that kind of stuff, you know, invest in a pair of coveralls or change your clothes before you go somewhere else? Yeah, it's it's super simple, basic biosecurity. But it does footwear is the biggest thing. Yeah, I think about what she was putting down
to do it. And then
I knew she was because because that was that that was the number one problem. When it's spread rapidly among when it's spread when it moves through commercial poultry operations is that it's you think you're doing everything right. But oh, there's one truck that went between farms. Absolutely. No, without without cleaning. And you
had you had referenced this earlier? Like we had a large outbreak in 2014 2015. Yeah. And there's been a major shift in the current outbreak. And we've learned from that they've learned from that we have stronger biosecurity in our commercial operations in that. And I think the numbers like I want to say it's like 60 to 70% of our commercial introductions stay at one farm. So meaning it's introduced from the Walbro population, and then it's not spreading any further. Right. And that's amazing. That is really good. That's good. All right, doing the right things to keep it on the one commercial premises because what we saw in 2014 2015, we didn't get it stopped fast enough. And the virus just spread the five or six neighboring farms really quickly because we weren't containing it. And we have been much more successful in our response this time.
But here's the thing with something like avian influenza, or any influenza is you can do everything right. Especially as a commercial operator, where you've got, you know, 5 million birds, you can do everything right, and still still have an outbreak. Yeah, because this is a virus that circulates. It's, it's what we call endemic. So it is always present in the migratory birds and the birds everywhere, the Tweety birds everywhere and the dabbling ducks are the source, right. But all the birds can have it and all the birds can spread it.
Yeah. And the species has really expanded with this particular version of this virus. Yeah.
And so. So what can you do as a backyard? Chicken owner? Well, we're telling you, and she's telling you, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't get backyard birds because we started out this podcast saying they're wonderful, and
they're wonderful. And I think the other thing is just to be aware, like if you have backyard birds, and you back up to like a marshy kind of area or like, you know, you're close to like a wildlife impoundment where there's a lot of ducks that come through, keep your birds close, don't let them wander off. Keep them you know, in a coop,
put up a fence. It's not credible to see your chickens eating next to wild geese. This is not a good plan.
No. And where we have had issues like our introductions, we've had two cases in Georgia and I think you guys have had the same in Florida too. We've seen this in a lot of black vultures. The vultures are picking up the virus because they eat the Parian like this is again a natural process but the realtors are becoming infected. And then they're having large vulture die offs. Because bad
news for lenders, bad news
and a lot of reasons, a lot of reasons.
So then our two introductions that we had in Georgia had been like kind of backyard and like collection kind of flops, they were smaller, large. They're not like, one we're not onesie twosie. But they're not one verschil production. They're not commercial. They're like 100 birds. And they have like different species of birds. It's like a Farm Sanctuary. One was like a Farm Sanctuary. But on their land, they had a butcher die off. So the virus was just present and high numbers. And then their their birds became infected, and they started to die. The other thing is just to be vigilant, if you start to see mortality in your flocks, each state has set up a hotline. And you can find this on your State Department of Agriculture. We'll put a link office. Yeah, I'll put a link folks and there's a federal hotline. And that unfortunately, we have seen come to cause bad things in Pennsylvania, like our kind of hot spot of cases right now is Pennsylvania. And I have inside information that we had growers there that supply and the what we call live bird markets in the Northeast. And they were just calling out sick and dying birds.
reporting something, you got it.
So So here's so here's my question. If I'm a backyard chicken owner, and now I'm aware, right,
Thanks for the chat chats,
I'm aware. And I'm afraid for my chickens. I'm looking at him like sideways. I'm gonna give him a little side. I like did you hang out with those keys decades ago? Like, what you've been doing chicken? How do I know? What am I looking for? What are the signs
right? The clinical signs or they will usually probably become pretty depressed. A depressed bird has a very, they get kind of hunched, the feathers on their neck ruffle up, they will stop eating, they will stop drinking, you can frequently see red areas on the legs. These are areas of small hemorrhage underneath the skin. Because you were saying as you were saying earlier, this becomes a very systemic disease so they get holes poked and their blood vessels. And so you'll see hemorrhages up on the comb, you can see Wreden legs, but then basically they just get really sick very quickly and then they will die.
Yeah, so number one, number one clinical sign of a bird with high path avian influenza is a dead bird.
Yes. Sometimes, which is terrible, yes, terrible, because they die so quickly they do. You may see the other thing you can see is what we call neurologic signs, meaning their head may kind of till they may kind of get a trimmer, we're seeing that in, in in wild birds, that really, they just you'll have you'll walk out and you'll find two or three that are dead.
And so what you should do is immediately call your veterinarian, yes, immediately call
your veterinarian. And actually, like if you look at the total numbers in our entire outbreak from 22 to 23 backyard flocks are the vast majority this time this time around
and land that is that is because we last year in 2014 15. Right, because I was very big on that response. Yes, it was almost exclusively commercial operations. And the backyard flocks were didn't have it. And now because of that outbreak, most of the states required, like new Biosecurity, yeah, but not not horrific changes, but pretty basic changes to changes in biosecurity. And so now producers have done that. And so now we're seeing it only in backyard flocks. Yes, because we have a lot of new chicken owners and people need to be vigilant with their biosecurity because you don't you don't want to come out and find your chickens dead. But moreover, you really don't want to have to send your chickens across that rainbow bridge because of avian influenza. And so so if you do nothing else after this, call somebody Google some stuff, get a biosecurity plan for your backyard flock
to a lot of great resources on USDA, they have a whole program called defend your flock or defend the flock and it gives you just the basics like
and we're gonna put the link we're gonna put the link I was just gonna ask you what your favorite like what resource you most often point backyard chicken owners to, for you to leave in a lot of
a lot of the states departments have egg also, like will link to that saying those resources too. And a lot of states still have extension offices and those extension agents are super helpful. Some of them are even poultry specific, they're full of information to then some of them will actually like come out and evaluate your setup and give you tips and yeah, that's amazing. have one in your state. So, yeah, yeah, yeah. So offices can be great.
Because there's, there's a reason. If you get it live animal, it doesn't matter if it's a chicken cat or a dog, you are then obligated to provide care for them at the as best you can, the best you can do and everyday, you could probably do a little bit better. And so now as a chicken donor, yeah, evaluate what you're doing. And so it's wonderful to have people come over to look at your birds. But that introduces a risk. It's wonderful to see your birds free ranging, but that introduces a risk. And so you need to just be aware of that and then make conscious decisions for the health and longevity of your of your bird. Yep. So yeah, so high path. Avian Influenza is real. It's real folks. Real. Jason, what do you like? Are you worried about high path AI for your chickie?
No, not for mine. Really, I only have one. But if I had, and I worry about it, but it's not I mean, I can't do much more than we really do. But if I had several is thinking about that I keep thinking backyard chickens, like people have two and three. But there are people that have 3040 50 desktops to be a real real situation. And so it really does mean means some stuff to those guys. So I think it's great to give them all this information. My only question was where where can these folks find some info? And I think you guys provided that already. And we'll put that as a link on the on the web on the on the show site and the website. So
yeah, we will. We will Okay. Um, so I think that's, that's, that was all that was like, you've now covered all the things that I was acutely interested in for this episode. Dr. Jason, do you have anything else you want to ask Dr. Dr. Grogan before we let her
not is all covered. I do not have any more questions. Ah,
that was a good one. Yeah. Okay.
I just lost over because it was it wasn't a good one. Well, I
was I was gonna, I was gonna tell you guys because you're too like, kind of, you know, for nerds like me. The other thing like our one of our research groups at UGA, this we have this southeastern cooperative wildlife Disease study is an unfortunately, this is having impacts on a very important wild bird species, which is our bald eagle population. Yeah. And they just published in Nature recently that they evaluated I guess they put cameras on bald eagle nests. And they were showing like, a massive decline and actual nest failures because the adults were dying from avian influenza. Yeah, so yeah. And so And we've seen a lot of footage from Latin America, they've had, like Peru had like Pelican die offs, and it's really impacting our wildlife populations. We've never seen happen before. So it's a really a unique virus. This one is yeah, yes. So viruses pick it, you know, they're there to do their job, unfortunately. And this one's picked up skills to infect more species. Yeah,
there's a tumor, right? It's
a superpower. Right? Is it? Yeah,
it's, it's too well, so I think that, you know, there's some really, you know, maybe potential negative effects for years to come like for but you know, we've worked so hard to get our ball to populations back up, that, you know, this could be detrimental for those populations, we're trying to rebuild, it doesn't
take much when you impact reproduction, it doesn't take too much of a tweak to have real significant lasting impact. And so, unfortunately, this is a disease that is here, it's not going away, we can't eradicate it, because, well, that's kind of that's like trying to disinfect the beach. Like you can't eradicate avian influenza wild birds right. Now,
that's the problem, you know, and like, that's where the discussion is going is like, okay, it's here to stay.
It's always been here. I
do. Its right. A version of it has always been here this like, as it
has, this is really when you talk about viruses mutating and people get scared. Mostly I'm unafraid. But when they talk about mutation in the context of influenza, it's real. And uncontrolled, unpredictable. Signal significant.
Like yeah, it's it's a lot like artificial intelligence, it grows and gets stronger and you got to be worried and learn back on that topic.
Oh, holy moly. Dr. Jason. Okay. Well,
but yeah, it does a wonderful
conversation. If it does, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't have backyard birds you know, keep
backyard chickens just be villages and and just have a few basic biosecurity and, and hygiene things in place, and everything will be just fine. And that's right. And, you know, again, back to this conspiracy theory, when this first happened, there was some of that this was in the federal government was coming to take your chicken. They're coming to help stop the spread of the virus like they're not coming to harm anything. So we're With the federal partners, don't be afraid to use the hotline and report to your state if you walk out and find dead chickens,
but hey, avoid having to use that number by doing all the things right, doing all the things, it makes sure your birds are safe. All right, so check out the links that we're going to have in the show notes. Once again, we're going to put that lovely picture of the Buff Orpington up for our YouTube viewers so you can see it because we've heard it's a lovely chicken. And I think that's why it's so thank you so very much, Dr. Roman for joining us for the invitation.
And it's always fun to chat with Chatfield Yeah. It was great.
Oh, look at that. Okay, well, that's all we have. I'm Dr. Jenn the vet, Dr. Jason, I will catch you all in the next episode. The professional Animal Care certification council or PAP brings independent testing and certification to the pet care services industry is your dog's daycare or boarding kennel or a groomer manned by pack certified professionals don't know if you don't know you got to ask. Look for the pack emblem at your facility to make sure that your pets receiving the highest level of professional pet care because we all know it's safer and a pack your pack CE code for this episode is cc 220081.
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