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Avian Flu: Not a food safety issue

We’ve all heard and read countless articles about the avian flu that has shown up in several places in the Midwest the past month.  There are several accounts of what the avian flu looks like in an affected flock and how to minimize spreading the avian flu.  But, one thing that is not covered as often in the press; what is the food safety risk to humans?

Fortunately, avian influenza does not affect the foods people eat according to an Iowa State University food safety expert.  “Consumers should feel safe to eat properly cooked and prepared meat and eggs from poultry,” according to Angela Shaw, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and extension specialist in food safety.  “Avian influenza is not a foodborne pathogen and it cannot be contracted from eating properly cooked poultry meat and eggs.”

That is certainly reassuring for all of us who may have wondered if we need to cut back or eliminate poultry from our diet for a while.  I’ve continued eating my eggs and chicken sandwiches!

Shaw said the Food & Drug Administration maintains that properly cooked poultry and eggs pose no health threat.  She advised consumers to always follow FDA’s procedures for safe handling and cooking of poultry products.  These include:

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw poultry and eggs.
  • Clean cutting boards and other utensils with soap and hot water to keep raw poultry or eggs from contaminating other foods.
  • Sanitize cutting boards by using a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach and 1 gallon of water.
  • Cook poultry to an internal temperature of at least 170° F.
  • Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm.


In addition to the above food safety information and as a follow-up to our previous blog regarding Avian Flu Biosecurity Measures, please refer to the information below to protect your backyard flock from avian flu.

Poultry owners are being encouraged to follow tips and steps provided to reduce the risk of avian flu virus outbreak.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that owners of backyard flocks follow these tips to prevent poultry diseases in general and avian influenza in particular:

  • Protect poultry flocks from coming into contact with wild or migratory birds.  Keep poultry away from any source of water that could have been visited and contaminated by wild birds passing through the area.  This means your free range birds might have to be restricted in their movement for a while.  Keeping them inside is the best bet.
  • Keep your distance—restrict access to your property and your birds.
  • Don’t haul disease home.  If you have been near other birds or bird owners, clean and disinfect poultry cages and equipment before going home.
  • Don’t risk disease from your neighbor—do not borrow lawn and garden equipment, tools, trailers, or poultry supplies from other bird owners.
  • Keep it clean—clean and disinfect your clothes, shoes, equipment and hands.
  • Know the warning signs—a sudden increase in bird deaths, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, watery or green diarrhea, lack of energy, poor appetite and swelling around the head, eyes and neck.

All bird owners should report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials either through their state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 866-536-7593.

Disinfecting equipment was mentioned above more than once.  What kind of disinfectant will work?  Preserve’s Synergize and Dow Chemical’s GS2 are two examples that work.  The Avian flu virus is inactivated by heat and drying and seems to be very sensitive to most disinfectants.  If you are disinfecting your chicken house remember it will be far more effective if you remove the bedding and litter first, then do your disinfecting.

These tips will allow you to what is within your power to keep avian flu from striking your backyard flock.  Another word of encouragement is that the virus seems to dislike higher temperatures, so when warm weather arrives and is here to stay, the incidence of avian flu is expected to really slow down.

You can learn more about the avian flu at a couple of sources including and

Posted on 5/19/2015 by Amy Brown  |  Category: Poultry
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Feeding for the Lifetime of Your Canine Companion

Before purchasing your next canine companion animal there several things to consider that will help you achieve a quality and healthy life with the investing of time and costs related.  These three important factors (with equal importance) include: genetics, nutrition and care provided. 

We will touch briefly on the genetic side by offering encouragement to do your research prior to purchasing your next canine. Make sure this investment has proven genetic traits including health certification in both parents.  Most purchases occur with falling in love with the cute, cuddly puppy and we often overlook the 10-12 year commitment. Finding a quality breeder is more important than the breed or convenience of selection.

Next, we need to understand the nutritional needs with your goals included for your canine companion.  Once we have established these needs and goals, finding a brand of food to support long term health and performance is actually easier than most want to believe.

Puppies should start off with 3-4 small meals per day until around 14-16 weeks of age. As hard as it is to believe, your small puppy will soon have the same maintenance requirement as his or her mature weight.  Feeding smaller amounts more often will help achieve these needs without stomach upset or stool issues.

When choosing a nutrition program, it is important to consider the mature weight of the canine athlete we are feeding. There are different terms used for us to select based on the known growth and development specific to the breed(s) of individual(s). Choices include; Small breed (up to 35 lbs.), medium breed (35-50 lbs.), large breed (50-70 lbs.) and those extra-large breed (70+ lbs.)

Research clearly documents the importance of nurturing the structural development of the growing dog. A good example would be that large breed dog is best supported by feeding diets containing 26%-28% crude protein with 14%-16% fat. Feeding levels are equally as important.  They enhance proper skeletal, joint, hip, muscle and tendon strength and development which are key focus points for proper nutrition choices in feeding for the lifetime.

We consider 3-6 months of age important for us to focus on with our feeding program. This phase of their life is referred to as the “rapid growth phase” while continued development will last up to 12-18 months. Feeding to body conditions is most important with any feeding program. If you are not certain where your body condition needs to be, ask your breeder or seek help from your veterinarian. 

Finally, exercise is good in moderation during these development phases. We suggest training within the first 22 weeks being the “most important” priority to developing social and learning skills. This implies taking puppies for walks to stretch, grow and develop structure while acclimating their immune system they will need to prosper as adults.

The Kinetic Performance Brand dog food offers different nutrition packages for all levels of canine athletes, regardless of size, activity and immune requirements.  These targeted formulas are designed for your canine companion will help you develop a lifetime of structural, immune and physical health.

So take your time and do your homework when choosing your next companion...and be sure to care for him or her properly once you get home so he or she can enjoy a healthy, happy life as your pet.

Steve Ries – Top Gun Kennel

Posted on 5/13/2015 by Steve Ries  |  Category: Dog
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Protect Against Avian Flu: Biosecurity Measures for Backyard Poultry

By Jackie Nix, Animal Nutritionist, Ridley Block Operations


Click here to download PDF

As the latest outbreak of Avian Flu continues to spread, the need for biosecurity is more paramount than ever. Since December 2014, USDA has confirmed several cases of Avian Flu in the Pacific, Central and Mississippi flyways (migratory bird paths). Avian Flu has been found in wild birds as well as backyard and commercial poultry flocks. While biosecurity is a familiar topic with large commercial producers, owners of small backyard flocks need to familiarize themselves as well.

The Avian Flu is not only a danger to birds, but is potentially a concern for humans as well. The chances for the virus to infect humans is low, but still exists so don’t just casually dismiss symptoms. Symptoms in humans include: cough, fever, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea and in some cases a mild eye infection. If you develop a fever, cough and body aches, immediately see your doctor and be sure to inform him or her that you are in regular contact with poultry.

Unfortunately, the chances that the current Avian Flu outbreak will continue to spread to other areas of the United States is very high. For this reason it is important to keep vigilant watch over your birds and immediately report symptoms to your local or State veterinarian, or USDA toll-free at 1-866-536-7593.

In order to protect your birds, good biosecurity will be key. The following practices are recommended to help limit the spread of Avian Flu:

  1. Restrict access to your property and your birds, from wild animals and other humans. Remember that other animals such as dogs, cats and rodents can spread the disease as well.
  2. Prevent interactions with wild birds. This means limiting or totally eliminating free ranging.
  3. Carefully wash your hands and change shoes and clothes after contact with your birds. It is best to have one set of shoes and clothes that you only wear into housing areas that you immediately remove upon leaving the coop, pen, etc.
  4. Do not permit your bird owning friends to come into contact with your birds. Also, do not share lawn and garden equipment, tools or poultry supplies from other bird owners.
  5. Regularly clean and disinfect areas where birds have access. Avian Flu viruses are inactivated by heat and drying and are very sensitive to most disinfectants and detergents (for example, Dow Chemical’s GS2 or Preserve’s Synergize). Be sure to clear away organic matter prior to disinfection for best results.
  6. Do not purchase birds or eggs from unknown sources.
  7. Report the symptoms listed or unexpected deaths to your local veterinarian, State veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.



  • Sudden increase in bird deaths in your flock
  • Sneezing, gasping for air, coughing and nasal discharge
  • Watery and green diarrhea
  • Lack of energy and poor appetite
  • Drop in egg production or soft- or thin-shelled misshapen eggs
  • Swelling around the eyes, neck and head
  • Purple discoloration of the wattles, combs and legs
  • Tremors, drooping wings, circling, twisting of the head and neck, or lack of movement


In summary, Avian Flu is a very real threat for backyard flocks. Be vigilant for the symptoms of this disease and implement biosecurity practices to help lower your risk. 

Posted on 4/28/2015 by Guest Bloggers  |  Category: Poultry
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