Extension Office working to improve communications with local farmers

Special to The Times

Because poultry operations in Henry County consist of backyard flocks, the University of Georgia Extension Office in McDonough is compiling an e-mail list of local producers for the purpose of distributing timely updates to the area’s agricultural community.

The Extension Office’s effort comes on the heels of an incident that took place in Tennessee earlier this month. On March 3, a commercial chicken facility in Lincoln County, Tenn., alerted the state veterinarian’s office at the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to an increase in chicken deaths.

After testing samples from the affected flock USDA confirmed a presence of highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza, or HPAI, in a commercial chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tenn. This marked the first confirmed case of HPAI in commercial poultry in the United States this year.

No such reports of Avian Influenza have ever been made in Georgia. HPAI is known to be deadly for domesticated chickens and turkeys.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture is working with growers in their practice of bio-security measures. All bird owners -- including commercial producers and backyard enthusiasts – are encouraged to continue practicing good biosecurity, preventing contact between their birds and wild birds, and reporting sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state and federal officials.

For more information or to be included on the Extension’s distribution list, e-mail Agriculture and Natural Resource Agent Frank Hancock at fhancock@uga.edu or call the Extension Office at 770-288-8421.