New video series: Mass Mortality Composting for Avian Influenza Infected Flocks

I recently had the honor of working with a team of some of the best composting experts in the world to develop a video series describing the process of composting poultry mortality in response to outbreaks of avian influenza at commercial poultry production facilities.  The production team included:

  • Josh Payne, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service
  • Gary Flory, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
  • Mark Hutchinson, Maine Cooperative Extension
  • Mark King, Maine Department of Environmental Protection
  • George MacDonald, Maine Department of Environmental Protection
  • Bill Seekins, Agricultural Researcher

The series includes 7 videos describing various aspects of composting process.

  • Video 1: Mass Mortality Composting for Avian Influenza Infected Flocks:  An Overview
  • Video 2: Sourcing Carbon
  • Video 3: Temperature Monitoring
  • Video 4: Turning the Compost Windrow
  • Video 5: Composting in the Poultry House
  • Video 6: Site Selection for Outside Composting
  • Video 7:  Trouble Shooting

Summary:  The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak has become the largest animal health emergency in U.S. history. As of January, 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports 235 detections (214 commercial facilities and 21 backyard flocks) affecting approximately 50 million birds in 23 states. To date, over $950 million federal dollars have been spent on disease control efforts and indemnities. The infected birds have either died from the disease or been euthanized to control disease spread. Proper carcass management is vital for managing nutrients and controlling disease. Improper disposal may cause odor nuisance, spread disease, and the resulting leachate could negatively impact water sources. Mortality management options that were used during the recent HPAI outbreak include composting, burial, incineration, and landfilling. The most commonly implemented option was mass mortality composting. The purpose of mortality composting during the HPAI outbreak was to use biological heat treatment methods to degrade the carcass, inactivate the avian influenza virus, control odors and reduce fly exposure in a safe, biosecure, and environmentally sustainable manner. As a result of the outbreak, a national composting technical team was formed by the USDA, and a mortality composting protocol for avian influenza infected flocks was published. However, there still exists a need for professionally developed videos that can provide an overview of mass poultry mortality composting. The following videos provide an overview of mass poultry mortality composting and are intended for use as educational tools for the poultry industry, state and federal agencies, and emergency response contractors.

Click here for Video 1: Mass Mortality Composting for Avian Influenza Infected Flocks.  More to follow.

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Published by gafloryconsulting

Gary Flory is an independent adviser who has consulted, written guidance, conducted research and given presentations to national and international audiences on counter-agroterrorism, emerging infectious diseases, carcass disposal, One Health and foreign animal disease response. Gary was deployed to the Midwest on 5 separate occasions in support of USDA’s efforts to control Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreaks and was a lead author of USDA’s Mortality Composting Protocol for Avian Influenza Infected Flocks. Gary has written for a number of journals including recent articles on counter-agroterrorism, the weaponization of emerging infectious diseases and biosurveillance for the journal Chemical, Biological and Nuclear Warfare. He frequently shares his expertise at conferences and training events across the country and around the globe including recent events in Azerbaijan and Malaysia. Gary participates in a variety of working groups including the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Agricultural Workgroup; Virginia Poultry Disease Taskforce; Animal Health Quadrilateral Meeting of the Emergency Management Task Group & Disposal, Destruction & Disinfection Network; BioWatch Extended Veterinary Network; and the Virginia Catastrophic Livestock Mortality Taskforce. He was recently awarded the Agency Star award by the Governor of Virginia for his community service and leadership on animal disease response and agroterrorism.

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