The spread of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus in the U.S. was extremely costly to U.S. swine producers. The original introduction of PED virus was eventually tied to a contaminated imported feed ingredient.

Dr. Rick Phillips, president, Anitox, said on January 26, 2016, at the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Georgia, that his company was contacted by the swine industry to see if the feed additive, Termin-8, which was used to kill Salmonella in feed, could inactivate PED virus.

The research into PED virus inactivation ultimately led to the research at Auburn University to see if the additive would inactivate avian influenza virus in mash poultry feed, Phillips told the audience at the Anitox breakfast at IPPE.

Dr. Haroldo Toro, professor, avian diseases, Auburn University, said research conducted at Auburn demonstrated that Termin-8 successfully inactivated the avian flu virus in mash feed. The heat applied to feed in the pelleting process will also inactivate the avian flu virus. Most integrated broiler and turkey companies in the U.S. produce pelleted feeds, but many table egg farms and some independent meat bird growers feed mash diets.

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In years of bumper harvest, as the U.S. has experienced the past few years, grain can be stored in piles uncovered either waiting for transport or for storage bins to become available. Wild birds, including migratory ducks and geese that are common carriers of avian flu, are attracted to these piles to feed and defecate near them. It is the manure that is deposited on the grain piles that introduces the risk of contamination of finished poultry feeds. If present in feces, the avian flu virus can survive for several weeks in grain and finished mash feeds.

Feed is certainly not the most likely source of introduction of avian flu onto poultry farms; wild birds carrying the virus directly onto the farm and the movement of people and equipment from farm to farm are the most likely sources. The avian influenza virus has not yet been isolated in feed samples in the field. But, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been there, according to Phillips.

Phillips said that in work they have done trying to eliminate and prevent reintroduction of Salmonella onto primary breeders’ farms, it has been learned that a biosecurity program has to be comprehensive to be effective. He said that, even if feed only plays a small role in avian flu spread, the work with Salmonella control demonstrates that even the small things need to be considered.

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