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Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Finnish food safety authority warns of organic turkey risks
In the production of organic turkeys, the greatest biosecurity challenges and the highest disease risks are connected with outdoor access, according to the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira. Outdoor access exposes turkeys to diseases transmitted by wild birds and rodents as well as soil-borne bacteria, which rarely cause problems in conventional poultry production.
Evira and Agrifood Research Finland (MTT) have published a study that aimed at identifying the animal disease risks associated with organic turkey farming, and biosecurity measures designed to prevent these diseases.
”Turkeys on pasture come into direct contact with pathogens transmitted by wild birds and rodents as well as soil-borne bacteria. An example of these is the bacterium that causes swine erysipelas to which turkeys are particularly sensitive. Wild birds can also transmit also campylobacter, avian influenza and Newcastle disease to turkeys”, said Kitty Schulman, who works as a researcher in the Risk Assessment Research Unit at Evira.
Evira and Agrifood Research Finland MTT have published a study that aimed at identifying the animal disease risks associated with organic turkey farming, and biosecurity measures designed to prevent these diseases.
Organic turkeys must have outdoor access, at least from May to October unless prevented by the weather or disease situation. Increased exercise, improved possibilities for species-typical behavior as well as natural light increase the well-being of turkeys. However, outdoor access can also pose risks. In addition to diseases, predators, temperature variations and lack of weather shelter may weaken the health of the turkeys.
”Although outdoor access can make biosecurity more challenging in organic turkey production, the same rules apply as in conventional poultry farming. Biosecurity barriers should be maintained both on pasture and indoors. Keepers should avoid contact with other poultry farms as well as pet birds and wild birds, and vaccination against erysipelas is recommended,” Schulman concluded.