As cases of the H5 avian influenza continue to appear in Wisconsin and across the Midwest, many poultry farmers are left wondering what more can they do to protect their businesses.
The virus has already forced the destruction of more than a million birds in Wisconsin and its mere presence can knock out an operation for several months. Bill MacFarlane, who owns a large pheasant farm in Rock County, said the outbreak is hitting close to home and “it’s alarming.”
MacFarlane’s operation, which raises over a million pheasants a year, has strong bio-security measures in place. However, he noted that many of the farms that have already been hit with the virus claimed to as well. “You want to continue the things we are doing, but are left wondering if there’s more things we can do,” he said.
While the virus has not been found in his operation, MacFarlane said the possibility that an outbreak would shut him down is concerning. “It would be difficult to know how you would come back that, not that we wouldn’t…it’s just kind of the question of how that would look, how would you get back up to speed.”
Those concerns are punctuated by the confirmation of the virus in another poultry operation in the state. Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said Tuesday that avian influenza was found in a 108,000 bird turkey flock in Barron County. It’s the third such case in that county and will require the property to be placed under quarantine and all birds on site to be destroyed.