[reposted from my Capper Farmer blog: http://www.cappersfarmer.com/blogs/falcos-poultry.aspx ]
The bird flu is an infection which jumps. The avian flu virus can pass from wild birds such as ducks to say chickens laying eggs on a farm to people like you. As this virus makes its jump, it strengthens, becomes nastier, even deadly. It is very serious and should cause concern.
I am a true free-range, heritage breed, multi-species poultry farmer in the Northwest. This means I raise heritage chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese together in one flock on pasture in a direct path of migratory wild bird flocks. Furthermore, there was an outbreak of bird flu in my county. This would have most poultry raisers running for the hills. But wait, I haven’t disclosed the best part. My birds are not sick, have never been sick and I predict will not get sick, why? I have excellent bio-security measures in place at my farm, even though these measures are not the same bio-security measures proposed by the USDA. I fully understand the risks and am flat against allowing any virus to take hold of my flock and endanger my family, my community or fellow human beings. My bio-security measures are not for everyone. If you are a part-time poultry raiser and your birds and livestock are more of an after-thought or you choose to confine your livestock and not participate in all of the measures I have suggested, the USDA bio-security measures would probably suit your circumstances better.
Before you write me off as completely crazy, I would like to add an important piece of information. While wild birds are often carriers of the virus, only a tiny percentage of wild birds actually become ill from this terrible, deadly infection. Why? This is the question I had asked myself when I faced using either the USDA industrial, bio-security measures or to come up with another viable solution. Why do wild birds stay healthy even though they are routinely exposed to the virus? The reason is they are wild. They are graced with lots of sunshine, a variety of foodstuffs, the ability to exercise, a balanced flock and a natural life cycle. My solution is fairly simple, imitate nature and add in only a touch of human intervention where necessary.
These are the 7 steps to stopping the bird flu in its tracks:
- Free-range your livestock on spacious, diverse, fresh pasture. Allow them free access to diverse grasses, legumes, berries such as elderberries and blackberries, insects, worms and slugs, and health promoting herbs such as oregano, plantain and sage. For ducks and chickens, provide about 5-10 square feet per bird and for turkeys and geese, provide 10-20 square feet depending on seasonal weather and the current condition of the pasture. Rotate them often; once the plant material becomes matted down by little birdy feet, rotate them to fresh pasture. The space provides your birds with ample opportunities to exercise, to munch on delicious greens, snatch insects and to breathe in fresh air.
- Feed your omnivores, non-G.M.O., sprouts verses dried grain feed mixes. Consider sprouting your grains, legumes and seeds to the fifth day for optimum health, with 85% bio-availability, chelated minerals, a boost of enzymes, digestible vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates and fatty acids. Sprouting provides your birds with the best nutrition available at the least cost to you.
- Provide your livestock with fresh water, organic apple cider vinegar and oregano essential oil. At the end of summer, right before wild bird migration occurs, start putting a couple of tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar and fifteen drops of oregano essential oil per gallon of water into their waterers. This treatment stops bad bacteria and viruses from infecting your flock and provides your birds with an excellent probiotic to give their immune system a boost.
- Give them free access to a dry, secure shelter. Make sure that your coop is secured against predators. Predator stress compromises your livestock’s health just as much as rain, snow, ice, wind and too much sun. Access to a dry, secure shelter can save the day for your birds and for you.
- Mimic a natural flock environment where the mother hen hatches and raises her young, the gander goose protects and cares for flock and the birds are harvested at a natural age. Seek out only heritage breeds as they have better genetics to support this natural lifestyle and cycle. Mimicking a natural flock environment decreases your birds’ stress level, creates continuity and ensures great genetics and skills are past down to the next generation.
- Make sure they get plenty of sunlight. Sunlight kills the virus and aids in vitamin D production which boosts your bird’s immune system. Sunlight is such a good thing.
- Last but not least, protect yourself. Even though you have stopped the spread and devastation of the virus in your flock, it doesn’t mean you have stopped it from taking hold in you. Wear disposable nitrile gloves when working with your birds – always! I am for a drastic decrease in plastic use, but this isn’t the place for it. Instead, recycle your gloves after each use. Wash your hands after you work with your birds, each and every time. Wear a specific pair of work boots when you work with your birds, rinse them off and store them on a boot bath mat in a rinse of hydrogen peroxide powder, castile soap and water right outside of your front door. Do not track the outdoor poultry mess into your home. Also, take measures to boost your immune system. Consider a robust nutritional plan, herbal supplements, exposing yourself to appropriate amounts of sunlight and implementing a stress management plan to keep your immune system in excellent working order.
Together we can stop the spread of this deadly virus and take better care of our animals and ourselves.