The second case of avian influenza, which has just been declared positive in Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and which affects a commercial turkey farm, is causing concern given the proximity of other farms.
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After the first case which occurred on June 28 on a farm of 4,600 turkeys, a second case has just been reported on Sunday, with even greater consequences.
In fact, according to the most recent information, nearly 10,000 turkeys were in one of the four buildings on the site, which was confirmed by the CFIA where a high mortality rate had been observed. The building through which the disease entered housed birds that had to go to the slaughterhouse before being put on the market.
At this new site alone, it is estimated that there could be up to 16,000 birds that will need to be culled, should the disease intrude on other farm buildings, which is a huge blow for the producer concerned. . The two farms where the cases have been reported are 800 meters apart.
Photo Diane Tremblay
Several farms apply biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of bird flu disease in Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, such as here on 5th Avenue, where unauthorized persons cannot enter.
Very difficult morally
“Given the proximity to the other site, the farm could not avoid contamination, despite biosecurity efforts and measures. It is a farm which is quite populous in terms of poultry buildings. So, that worries us greatly at the moment, ”said Pierre-Luc Leblanc, president of the Poultry Breeders of Quebec who is in contact with the producers of Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier.
“The CFIA makes the decisions based on what it sees and the tests it does. So the Agency will look at what needs to be done and we will rely on its recommendations to see what happens with the rest of the site,” added Mr. Leblanc.
According to him, the situation “is very difficult morally” for turkey producers in the municipality, located in the suburbs of Quebec.
Photo Diane Tremblay
The municipality of Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, north of Quebec, is grappling with cases of avian flu that threaten turkey producers in the region, who are numerous in this territory.
“Already seeing the birds die has an impact on morale. We work hard to maintain the health of our birds to feed the population as a producer. It affects us and that’s not to mention the financial pressure that comes on top of all that. The situation was already not easy with inflation and the cost of grain. So having to take other losses is not easy. We try as much as possible to provide our moral support,” added Mr. Leblanc.
What worries at the moment is the concentration of turkey farms in Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier where there are 85 buildings within a radius of 10 square kilometers, which represents about ten farms. Avian influenza is highly pathogenic and can decimate a flock in just a few days, pointed out Mr. Leblanc.
According to the president of the Poultry Farmers of Quebec, this is the first time that the disease has affected turkey farmers.
“The more the cases multiply, and this is what the second case has just done, the closer it gets to the other buildings. So, we hope that we control the situation, but we don’t have much power over it,” he added.
As a precaution, the farms have installed devices to control human circulation and prevent the spread, by prohibiting access to unauthorized persons. Barriers with posters have been installed as a warning as Le Journal has seen while driving on 5th Avenue where there are several breeders. The disease can be spread directly from bird to bird through secretions and droppings. It can also be transmitted indirectly through contaminated food, water or equipment.
The financial impact for producers is “very great,” adds Mr. Leblanc. Although government programs provide assistance, producers are without income for a period that can be quite long, he says, while waiting for the farm to reach a normal level of activity.
“These are incredible financial losses for the producers. It’s major. We don’t want that to happen to anyone. I am a breeder myself. I can easily put myself in their shoes,” added the president.