News

Redleaf scientists support the Australian poultry industry with research into how to prevent avian influenza outbreaks

15 August 2014

Native waterfowl as carriers of avian influenza (AI) will be the target of an important project being undertaken by researchers from Redleaf Environmental after receiving support from the Rural Industry Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) for a project aimed at investigating control measures for waterfowl around poultry farms.

According to Redleaf’s principal researcher, Michael Atzeni, avian influenza is a highly infectious disease. The more virulent AI strains can be highly pathogenic to poultry causing up to 100% mortality in infected flocks.

Avian Influenza Farm

“Fortunately, the handful of outbreaks of AI in commercial poultry in Australia have been detected early and quickly stamped out. Infected farms are quarantined and infected flocks are promptly destroyed,” Michael said. “However, there is significant cost involved for both industry and governments in responding to these incidents, and the industry’s export markets are disrupted for a period of time following an outbreak, resulting in considerable losses to a range of export industries.”

“That’s why we believe it is vital that a review is conducted on behalf of the poultry industry to identify the most practical control and deterrent methods for wild waterbirds frequenting water storages, pasture areas and range areas on poultry farms,” Michael explained.

The research project - Deterrence of waterfowl from waterbodies: a critical review - is the first national review to have been undertaken of practical methods to deter waterfowl from poultry farms.

“Our challenge is to contribute through a high level review of current methods and provide innovative options for control on this important topic, in collaboration with the poultry industry stakeholders and RIRDC.”

The Redleaf team’s high level research skills and experience in the rural industries sector was a key factor in RIRDC’s decision to support this project.

The research will take place over the next three months with a final report to be delivered to RIRDC later this year.

Redleaf scientists are working with key research groups around Australia, including NSW DPI and the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, as well as with industry representatives across Australia to investigate this important issue.

RIRDC is a statutory authority established by the Australian Government to work with industry to invest in research and development for a more profitable, sustainable and dynamic rural sector. 

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