Bird flu concerns Nebraskans with backyard flocks

Backyard chickens in Nebraska.
Backyard chickens in Nebraska.(Brent Weber)
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 10:44 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska Extension educator Brett Kreifels is from a poultry family. His aunt Christie retired from the family’s major hatchery a few years ago, but couldn’t give up her backyard hens.

They all know how serious the avian flu is.

Nationwide, at least 70 commercial flocks and 40 backyard flocks have been affected. And while there have been few backyard flocks wiped out by the virus so far this year in Nebraska, migrating waterfowl are actively spreading the virus right now.

“Backyard flocks are just as susceptible, probably even more so, just because backyard flock birds, birds get to run around,” Kreifels said. “They are exposed to the waterfowl, the wild birds that come in. So what do you do to mitigate that? Make sure no one comes on your property that’s been around chicken or others birds. I was at a house the other day and she had canaries. Even canaries can be susceptible to bird flu.”

Kreifels said as things warm up, people should consider ways their behavior could put the birds at risk in their backyard or home. Make sure if you go to the lake, or have dirt on your tires, that you take the proper steps to practice biosecurity.

“You go to the park, the pond, you feed some ducks or geese some bread, kids are gonna step in goose poop,” Kreifels said. “They’re gonna get up to that pond’s edge, it’s inevitable, so you gotta make sure when you come back home, if you have birds inside or pet birds, you disinfect your shoes when you get home, a mild bleach solution, as well as the wheels of your vehicles.”

And he adds if you like to buy those live baby chicks for the kiddos this time of year, know where they come from before you bring them home.

The extension service encourages anyone who notices unusual behavior in birds of any kind, they should contact someone in their office or a veterinarian.

“One of the questions I get at work all the time,” he said. “‘Can you get avian influenza from an egg?’ No, the virus does not transmit through the egg.”

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