USDA Kills 73500 Bird Flu Compromised Tennessee Broiler Chickens

by | Mar 8, 2017 | 911, Breaking News, Business, County News, Cullman, Marshall, Morgan, Public Safety, State of Alabama News

USDA Kills 73500 Bird Flu Compromised Tennessee Broiler Chickens

Cullman and Northern Alabama Poultry/Egg Producers On Alert


A poultry farm in Lincoln County, TN has been infected by a highly pathogenic H7 avian (bird) flu virus.

73,500 chickens have been destroyed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The goal of the bird destruction prevents the infected chickens from entering the food supply AND spreading the virus.

Additionally, 30 other farms within a 12-mile radius of the above facility are under quarantine.

USDA Kills 73,500 Bird Flu Compromised Tennessee Broiler Chickens

Lincoln County is a far southern jurisdiction on the Alabama/Tennessee border. It is located just north of Huntsville.

Cullman County is Alabama’s top broiler (chickens bred and raised for meat production) producer; Marshall County is #3.

Overall, the state of Alabama is the United States’s second largest producer of broilers. Poultry and egg production generate more than $15 billion a year in Alabama.

According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), more than 85,000 jobs in the state relate to the poultry and egg business.

To this point, NO poultry producers or backyard flock owners in Cullman are subject to the quarantine; the source of infected birds is not believed to have an origin point in Cullman County.

Lincoln County’s close proximity to both Jackson and Madison counties in Alabama has resulted in a small portion of northern Alabama being included in the quarantine radius.

USDA Kills 73,500 Bird Flu Compromised Tennessee Broiler Chickens

Concerns about the pathogenic H7 avian flu virus migrating to Cullman, Marshall and other top chicken poultry and egg operations in Alabama are real. These concerns are a top priority for the ACES. They have moved rapidly to add to their website a comprehensive overview of the Lincoln County situation AND make information to concerned citizens and poultry/egg producers statewide.

You can find their new web page here:

Dr. Gary Lemme, Alabama Extension director explains:

“This website will be Extension’s education portal for consumers, backyard flock owners, and commercial operators. The site features important information on biosecurity measures for backyard keepers in particular.”

It features up-to-date information about the current status of the Tennessee avian influenza outbreak as well as resource materials including fact sheets and videos:

USDA Kills 73,500 Bird Flu Compromised Tennessee Broiler Chickens

Here Is The ACES Fact Sheet For Week of March 6, 2017

• Avian influenza has been confirmed in a Lincoln County, TN, breeder flock.

• State and federal officials have established a 6.2-mile diameter control around the site of the infected flock. Because the Tennessee farm is near the Alabama border, portions of Alabama are in the control zone.

• Testing is required at least weekly in the infected and buffer zones of all poultry premises. All samples will be collected by trained state personnel and tested in one of the state diagnostic labs.

• All flocks that test positive must have flock plans and compliance agreements to cover procedures necessary to develop response and emergency plans.

• Quarantine regulations will restrict movement of all poultry and equipment especially in and from the infected zone.

• Consumers can be confident in the safety of poultry products. Affected birds do not enter the food chain.

What Backyard Flock Owners Can Do

• Continue effective biosecurity measures.

• Do not move birds from their current location.

• Do not visit farms or other households with poultry.

• If you travel to a place where other birds are present or even to the feed store, clean and disinfect tires, poultry cages, and equipment before returning to your property. These can harbor germs.

• Keep out, unnecessary visitors. Other people and birds—including new birds recently purchased and wild birds—can carry diseases to backyard flocks.

• If visitors have birds of their own, do not let them enter your bird area or have any access to your birds.

• Be sure that feeders are in a covered location where wild birds cannot gain access. This will help reduce the potential for disease carried in the droppings of wild birds.

USDA Kills 73,500 Bird Flu Compromised Tennessee Broiler Chickens

According to Food Safety News, Tyson Foods officials say they do not expect the company’s poultry business to be impacted. But, the Springfield, AR, company did see its stock take a $1.61 hit when news of the avian flu first got out. It also prompted Japan and Singapore to at least temporarily ban poultry from both Tennessee and Wisconsin, areas of the United States experiencing Avian flu.

Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan have also put a halt on U.S. poultry imports to those countries.

Governments are cautious about avian flu because such viruses in rare circumstances could cross over to become infectious for humans. It was a deadly flu pandemic during and after World War I that resulted in more deaths than the conflict itself.

Food Safety News believes that the sudden return of the bird flu to the U.S. has again underlined the need for poultry operations to up their biosecurity game, according to both government and industry experts. USDA’s program to help is called “Defend the Flock.”

According to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), 13 strains of Avian flu were detected in 77 countries from January 2014 through the end of 2016. Countless birds — both wild and domestic — had to be destroyed. The United States was getting a break from bird flu, but not Asia and Europe. As more outbreaks have occurred, countries have had to make adjustments in their poultry sources.

OIE says the various strains of avian influenza mean bird flu must be viewed as a global public health threat.

If you suspect a case of H7 avian (bird) flu virus in your flock, call the USDA at 1-800-642-7761. To reach the Alabama Poultry Unit at  334-240-7255, extension 4.

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Originally from Asheville, NC, Timothy brings an insightful holistic perspective as well as a mountain man tenacity to his various roles at Cullman Today. You can reach him at and/or (256) 615-8260.