Poultry farmers in Iowa and across the Midwest continue to follow strict biosecurity practices as they try to prevent a repeat of 2015’s devastating avian influenza (AI) outbreak.

Russ Yoder, who raises turkeys near Wayland in southeast Iowa, says biosecurity is a part of everything they do on the farm. “Disinfecting boots all the time, washing clothes, washing pickups and tires — it’s a never-ending battle,” Yoder says. “And when you go to town, you don’t wear your boots into the gas station, you don’t wear your boots into the feed mill, or anywhere. Then, when you get out to the farm, you change your boots and you disinfect. You’re only as strong as your weakest link and all it takes is once.”

Yoder, who serves as president of the Iowa Turkey Federation, was able to avoid the disease in his operation in 2015. But, this spring’s A-I outbreaks in the southeastern U.S. have him and other poultry farmers on high alert. Yoder says warmer weather would help alleviate some of those concerns.

“A 48-degree, cold, damp day, they say AI can live up to 30 days in those environments. Where, you get an 85-degree, warm, sunny, dry day, it can live up to three hours,” Yoder says. “So, weather is a part of it. This time of the year is the big challenge. So, we just need to keep working on biosecurity.”

Except for one case of low pathogenic avian flu in a Wisconsin turkey flock last month, all of this spring’s outbreaks have been confined to broiler houses in the Southeast. Avian flu can be carried by wild birds as they migrate north. It is not a food safety issue for humans.

(Reporting by Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News)