A recent symposium hosted by Ceva Animal Health (an animal pharmeceutical company) addressed the topic of vaccines in the poultry industry. One of the speakers was Dr. Andrew Rhorer from the National Poultry Improvement Plan. Here is a quote from the Ceva Animal Health write-up on Dr. Rhorer’s presentation:
According to Dr Rohrer, raising backyard poultry, hobby chickens and interaction with chickens at shops or other consumer events or fairs could reduce the change to control avian and human influenza succesfully [sic]. (quotation found here.)
Got that? A USDA official is stating that backyard poultry is a danger to the nation. He believes that my taking a chicken (tested under the NPIP, BTW) to a school, could prevent the government from protecting the nation from an outbreak of influenza. Interesting that he says this at a conference paid for by a drug company and attended by factory farm producers.
The American Poultry Association (which supports poultry shows and backyard breeders) tries to send a representative to NPIP meetings and inject some sanity into the discussions and resultant regulations. The Cornucopia Institute understands that it’s not the small farms that cause the major disease outbreaks. They do their best to get the word out. What other organizations are giving a voice to the “village hennery?” (A phrase discovered in The Biggle Poultry Book from 1895, and my favorite way to describe backyard chicken keepers.) Those voices need to turn into a chorus.
Note: The NPIP, created in the 1930’s, did a terrific job of eliminating deadly diseases that were decimating large and small flocks. I do believe in vaccination and the judicious use of drugs. But I also believe that it’s the factory farms that are the potential reservoirs of devastating diseases, not the well-cared for backyard flock, and that regulations must take the different types of animal husbandry into account.
Okay, now I’ll stop ranting.