Sanderson Farms has not had any cases of avian influenza at any of its farms or facilities in 2015, and the company is taking every extra precaution to make sure that the virus continues to stay away, company CEO Joe Sanderson Jr., said during the Sanderson Farms Investor Conference, held on October 16.

According to Sanderson, company officials have been communicating with its growers every month for the past year, and everyone at those farms has an understanding that the main way to protect the farms against avian influenza is to limit traffic on the farms and to prevent cross-contamination from a maintenance worker, truck or other piece of equipment that may have been an another farm previously.

But even common, everyday things can put a farm at risk, he said.

“It’s so very simple to prevent, but it is so very simple to occur,” said Sanderson. “The farmer can go to the grocery store in his boots and go through the grocery store or service station and cross paths with some hunters who have been out hunting geese out in the field … and go back to his farm and not go through his footbath and boom. It’s a very virulent disease, and that farm is gone.”

Sanderson Farms taking extra precautions concerning hunters, wild birds

The potential spread of avian influenza through wild birds has Sanderson Farms officials particularly protective, considering Sanderson has two families of geese on the farm where he lives. Adding to the risk is the fact that duck hunting is a popular form of entertainment for Sanderson Farms and the people it does business with.

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Sanderson Farms has a camp in Arkansas that it takes customers to 45 days out of the 60-day season, Sanderson said, but as a precaution, it is not taking any of the company’s planes to the location this eyar. Instead, it is chartering flights “so our planes be clean.”

“We’re doing extraordinary things to protect our flocks,” he said.

Sanderson also mentioned that the two families of geese at his home farm have all been tested for avian influenza.

But when he arrived home one day, those geese he keeps were joined by some wild Canada geese, bringing his goose population to about 60.

“I can’t test all of them,” he said. “I’m going to have to shoo them off as kindly as I can.”