Bird flu prompts farmers to consider rendering options

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

The US has dealt with its worst outbreak of bird flu this year
The US has dealt with its worst outbreak of bird flu this year

Related tags Avian influenza Bird Livestock Poultry

US poultry farmers are considering rendering birds for fertiliser and other inedible products if another outbreak of avian influenza (AI) forces them to take thousands of animals out of the food chain.

Speaking at USPOULTRY’s 2015 Poultry Protein & Fat Seminar in Nashville, Tennesee, JJ Smith, president of Valley Proteins, said that this course of action was “unlikely”​. However, he added that the industry was “trying to get ready for what could be coming down the pike​”.

“We have had discussions with USDA and FDA about possibly rendering birds if a reoccurrence of avian influenza happens this fall,”​ he said.

Smith was speaking as part of a presentation on ‘Avian Influenza Biosecurity Response: Cleaning and Disinfecting’.  He discussed Valley Proteins’ experience with avian influenza in the Shenandoah Valley in 2002.

Contingency plan

Smith also discussed an AI contingency plan and reviewed areas that should be addressed from a rendering standpoint. 

The US has this year dealt with its worst outbreak of AI on record, with more than 50 million chickens, turkeys and other birds culled by August in outbreaks across 12 states.

The situation for the US poultry industry has recently improved following a devastating first half of the year. According to a Reuters report, Cuba has purchased at least 13m kg of US chicken for delivery in October, ending a two-month suspension related to AI.

However there are fears the autumn migration of wild birds will reintroduce the virus to commercial flocks, and the USDA has said it will acquire vaccines and make them available to farms in the event of a fresh outbreak.

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