Through the spring and fall of 2022, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus (HPAI) triggered the on-farm culling of over 1.4 million birds in Alberta. This new research investment aims to reduce the impact of future HPAI outbreaks and is crucial to securing a safe food supply and a stable poultry industry in Alberta.
To support Alberta’s poultry industry, RDAR, Alberta Chicken Producers (ACP), and Egg Farmers of Alberta (EFA) awarded $733,801 to avian virologist Dr. Faizal Careem, University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, to lead a vital HPAI research project. The investment, including $633,801 from RDAR, will help define effective, science-driven biosecurity procedures, and outbreak control measures.
“Last year, we saw the devastating impact HPAI can have on poultry producers, with over a million animals lost for dozens of producers. This research funding will help us understand more about the disease so we can lessen the damage of future outbreaks and strengthen Alberta’s poultry sector,” says RJ Sigurdson, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation.
“The current HPAI outbreak affected many poultry producers through animal and economic losses. RDAR is pleased to invest in this essential HPAI research that will directly benefit our poultry producers,” says Clinton Dobson, RDAR Executive Director, Research.
Dr. Careem’s research will target several areas for understanding the magnitude of the current HPAI outbreak in Alberta:
- Identifying the route HPAI is introduced to poultry flocks – contaminated air, feed, water, or other vector.
- Defining HPAI transmission risk in primary control zones in the period between diagnosis and depopulation.
- Determining the role that non-migratory birds might have in HPAI outbreaks.
Learn more about this project here.
“On the heels of Alberta’s first outbreak of HPAI and the significant impact it had on our farming families and value chains, this project is vitally important to both the provincial poultry industry and Albertans,” says Stephen Scott, General Manager, Egg Farmers of Alberta. “The hope is that this project will further clarify and deepen the understanding of risk factors, so producers can invest in preventative actions based on scientific evidence while supporting the development of localized solutions to reduce the risk of future outbreaks.”
“The effects of HPAI have been profound across poultry sectors and many borders,” says Geoff Brown, Alberta Chicken Producer’s Executive Director. “We are pleased to partner on this project to help us understand how HPAI is transmitted, allowing us to reduce its impact on farm viability, animal welfare, and our supply chain.”
“The Alberta turkey industry was devastated by HPAI in 2022,” says Cara Prout, Executive Director of Alberta Turkey Producers, “Infections in commercial operations occurred in both the spring and fall, leaving little opportunity to re-grow production losses caused by birds ordered destroyed combined with the duration of time needed to complete the rigorous cleaning and disinfection process. Research projects supported by RDAR will help us gain a more robust understanding of the virus and will enable us to prepare our industry to mitigate risk effectively.”
RDAR’s mandate is to target strategic investments in producer-led, results-driven agriculture research to power the profitability, productivity, competitiveness, and sustainability of Agriculture in Alberta. A not-for-profit corporation, RDAR’s funding comes from the Government of Alberta, the Government of Canada, and Alberta’s Government through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership. www.rdar.ca
About Egg Farmers of Alberta
Egg Farmers of Alberta is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1968 to effectively promote, control and regulate the marketing of eggs in Alberta. EFA represents the province’s more than 170 registered egg farmers, who are dedicated to providing Albertans with a stable supply of fresh, high-quality, nutritious, locally produced eggs.
About Alberta Chicken Producers
Alberta Chicken Producers is a farmer-run, not-for-profit marketing board that regulates broiler chicken production in Alberta. Alberta Chicken Producers is comprised of 243 regulated chicken producers.
About Alberta Turkey Producers
Alberta Turkey Producers is a farmer-run, not-for-profit marketing board that regulates turkey production in Alberta. Alberta Turkey Producers is comprised of 42 licensed turkey producers.