Truckers use biosecurity measures to contain spread of bird flu

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 4/23/2015

Poultry producers in several key Midwestern states have had to destroy millions of turkeys and chickens in recent weeks as the highly contagious avian influenza, or bird flu, continues to sweep through commercial flocks in the United States.

In Iowa, the nation’s top egg-producing state, more than 3 million hens were destroyed after the H5N2 virus was found at Sunrise Farms, an egg-laying facility in Osceola Country, Iowa, on Monday, April 20.

More than 2 million turkeys have been destroyed in Minnesota, the nation’s top turkey-producing state, after the deadly H5N2 virus was discovered in commercial flocks there.

Trucking companies that haul poultry and eggs are doing their part to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus, ramping up their biosecurity measures.

The owner of a transportation company in Iowa that hauls liquid eggs, as well as egg products that have been pasteurized, told Land Line on Thursday, April 23, that his company has been doing its part to prevent further spread of the deadly virus.

“We have 14 trucks and 40 trailers, and our main concern is making sure we are doing all we need to do to make sure we don’t spread anything,” the trucking company owner, who didn’t want to be named, said.

He said the majority of his days have been spent implementing strict biosecurity measures for his trucks since the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the avian outbreaks in commercial flocks in his home state.

He told Land Line his company is using three organic disinfectants, based on his customers’ preferences, that are not chlorine-based to clean tires and trailers. Much of his days have also been spent making sure his trucks are using the right routes to get to the right locations since the outbreaks.

So far, the Iowa trucking company owner says he hasn’t passed any additional costs on to his customers, even though he has had to reroute trucks, sometimes as much as 60 miles, on a normally 80-mile load, to avoid the quarantined areas surrounding the infected sites.

Kim Halverson, co-owner of Halverson Farms in Morristown, Minn., said that her flock of 36,000 turkeys has not been affected by the virus. However, she and her husband, Dennis Halverson, have stringent biosecurity measures in place.

Kim Halverson sits on the board of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association. She said the procedures and protocols the Halversons use at their commercial turkey operation are “highly suggested procedures” from the state association.

She told Land Line that she is requiring all trucks that enter the farm to spray down their tires before entering. Halverson said they also limit access to their barns to prevent any cross-contamination issues. Disinfection mats are another biosecurity measure the Halversons use in their barns.

“The minute they step into the door of the service room, they are disinfecting their street shoes immediately and then pick up a pair of boots that I have in the barn,” she said.

She said trucking companies that haul poultry and eggs will definitely feel a financial hit as more cases of avian bird flu are discovered.

“Truckers are definitely going to be affected simply because of the amount of birds that won’t be there on the market,” Kim Halverson said. “You can’t haul what’s not there.”

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