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Strain typing of pathogens: how to choose?

By Tim Johnson Associate Professor, University of Minnesota

If you have dealt with bacterial disease on a poultry farm, you are probably familiar with terms like “serotyping”, “fingerprinting”, or “DNA sequencing”. The purpose of these techniques is to study strains of bacteria – for each bacteria like E. coli, there are thousands of different strains. Understanding differences between strains helps to track bacteria in a system and identify control strategies. All of the strain typing methods mentioned above are commonly used to understand the spread of a bacterial strain during a disease outbreak. However, different tests provide different information, and it is important to understand nuances between tests. Serotyping is based upon proteins on the surface of the bacteria. This has been used for many years to classify bacteria. For some bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, this is very effective because serotype correlates with the genetics of the bacteria. However, in other bacteri…
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My First 4-H Experience

By Renae Larson, Extension Poultry Communications Intern

As a Communications Intern for the Extension Poultry team, I’m learning that working for Extension is fast-paced, collaborative and rewarding. Extension professionals wear many hats, which is giving me the opportunity to engage in various projects this summer.
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending one of the 4-H Livestock Day Camps in Farmington, accompanying Abby Neu, Poultry Extension Educator, with presenting biosecurity education using the BEET unit, Biosecure Entry Education Trailer. Minnesota 4-H is a learn-by-doing youth development program delivered by Extension throughout the state. 4-H’ers attend camps and complete projects in areas like health, science, agriculture, and citizenship, where they learn from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles.

Since I’ve never been a 4-Her, I had no idea what to expect out of the camp. Many of my U of M classmates in Agricultural Communications…

Fire Prevention and Preparedness

By Renae Larson, Extension Poultry Communications Intern

Poultry farm fires occur all over the country each year. Whether it is a backyard flock or a large operation, a fire of any size can be devastating. Minnesota has already had multiple poultry barn fires in 2018. It is important to take preventive measures to reduce the probability of your turkey farm catching fire.

National Fire Protection Association research in 2012 discovered heating equipment and electrical distribution and lighting equipment cause 40% of fires in barns. Electrical failure or malfunction and heat sources too close to combustibles were the most common factors contributing to ignition. As a fire safety precaution, Rutgers University Extension research suggests double checking electrical sources.

1. Make sure panel boxes are in a dry, dust free area.

2. Install dust and moisture resistant covers on light fixtures and insect control devices.

3. Do not leave portable heaters unattended in a barn.


Cameras Document Poultry-Wildlife Interactions

The role of wildlife in disease transmission within and between poultry farms is a sure-fire conversation starter wherever poultry industry professionals gather. A University of Minnesota research project led by Sally Noll, an Extension specialist in poultry and professor in the Department of Animal Science, and Gary Wyatt, an agroforestry educator with University of Minnesota Extension, is shedding light on wildlife activity around poultry facilities. Especially what happens after dark. 
The team selected turkey farms with varying landscapes around the farm and installed game cameras—five per farm—to monitor activity near barns, compost/litter piles, and farm borders. The most common types of animals identified by the camera traps were deer, rabbits, possums, various birds, feral cats, coyotes, raccoons, and foxes.

Preliminary information indicates that mortality composters are attractive to possums and raccoons. Crows were observed occasionally at these locations. On one …

Understanding Footpad Dermatitis

The welfare status of animals used for food production remains a concern for consumers and producers alike. Footpad dermatitis is a frequently observed condition in poultry production that can affect profitability, bird performance and well-being. The problem is that existing scoring methods to determine when the condition becomes a problem for the bird’s well-being could stand improvement. 
Footpad dermatitis is a necrotic condition that occurs on the bottom surface of the foot of poultry. It starts as an erosion of the skin of the foot and can lead to lesions and broken, painful ulcers if the skin is damaged. The condition can influence leg weakness development, which is another welfare indicator.

University of Minnesota researchers collaborated with colleagues at Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University and Purdue University to evaluate existing scoring methods that attempt to assess the severity and impact of footpad dermatitis. Unfortunately, the methods are not…

RESCHEDULED Backyard and Small Flock Poultry Workshop

SAINT PETER, Minn-- Minnesota's April blizzard forced the postponement of the poultry workshop scheduled in St. Peter, Minnesota last Saturday.  The event has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 28. 

Have you ever considered owning your own backyard chickens? Or do you already have a small flock and want to learn more about how to care for your feathered friends? Then join University of Minnesota Educators and Specialist for a day of poultry education on April 28th in St Peter, Minnesota.

Raising poultry on a small scale is gaining in popularity throughout all parts of Minnesota, but without access to education, many home producers are left scrambling to find answers to their questions. The Backyard and Small Flocks Workshop is designed to help start answering some of those questions.

The workshop will cover a range of poultry related topics including chicken breeds, poultry regulatory issues, poultry husbandry and nutrition, biosecurity, issues with raising poultry, and baby chicks…

Pens with partial slotted floors appear to offer advantages

We know that wet litter has a negative impact on turkeys. It can lead to footpad dermatitis, leg problems, diminished air quality, and it can allow avian influenza virus to survive for longer time periods.

Traditional strategies to remove moisture have some shortcomings. For instance, adding heat, tilling litter and/or adding dry bedding carry associated costs. Sharing tilling equipment between barns and hauling and distributing new bedding increases the risk of influenza introduction and spread.

Another potential strategy for improving litter condition and reducing disease challenge is to use slotted flooring (SF). Sally Noll, an Extension poultry specialist and professor in the Department of Animal Science, and Kevin Janni, an Extension agricultural engineer and professor in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, collaborated to evaluate alternative flooring systems. The Jennie-O Turkey Store processing plant in Faribault helped collect data for the stu…