A backyard flock near Kelowna is the latest to test positive for avian influenza, putting small-flock owners on high alert for this year’s highly pathogenic strain.
A bulletin from the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food on the evening of April 25 announced the positive result, which occurred in a flock of fewer than 100 birds in a relatively isolated location near Kelowna.
A control zone of 12 kilometres was implemented around the property, but no other flocks were in the restricted area.
“It’s not a huge concern to commercial farms because there’s none around,” says Amanda Brittain, chief information officer with the BC Poultry Association’s emergency operations centre.
However, the property is home to one of a growing number of small flocks the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has investigated over the past week.
On April 21, the BC Ministry of Agriculture informed growers of a premises of concern in the Cowichan Valley. CFIA test results came back negative.
This week, CFIA have been investigating a backyard flock in Nakusp. Test results are expected shortly.
Commercial flocks have been observing red biosecurity protocols since early April. These include keeping flocks indoors and away from wild birds; the use of personal protective equipment and frequent washing to prevent introducing disease; engaging in business remotely and avoiding public gathering spaces to avoid transmitting or coming in contact with infected materials.
Backyard flocks of less than 100 birds are not required to be indoors, but owners have been instructed to be vigilant.
Biosecurity measures for small-scale producers have been developed by the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association and endorsed by the province for those owners keeping their flocks outdoors.