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Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) has a small-flock disease investigation program to help non-quota/non-commercial (NQ/NC) poultry owners and their veterinarians.
What is "Non-Quota/Non-Commercial" Poultry?
Non-quota/non-commercial (NQ/NC) flocks are those composed of less than quota-controlled numbers (as set in regulations under Alberta's Marketing of Agricultural Products Act). It doesn't matter whether eggs or meat from the flock will be sold for consumption, nor the route of sale or donation (i.e. via farmers markets, farm gate sales, or directly to friends or neighbours).
NQ/NC poultry also includes species or types not subject to quota controls (for example: pheasant, quail, etc.), except where the scale of production indicates a primary commercial business. Supply flocks for federally registered hatcheries are not included, whether or not they are subject to supply management.
The term NQ/NC includes "backyard" or "small" poultry flocks.
About the Disease Investigation Program
The main goal of this program is the early detection of highly contagious provincially and federally reportable poultry diseases such as avian influenza (AI) Newcastle disease (NCDV), infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) and Salmonella, to protect the commercial poultry industry in Alberta. The program also helps NQ/NC producers manage these diseases.
This program can help producers directly or private veterinarians who refer cases from NQ/NC poultry clients. Not all birds from NQ/NC flocks will be accepted for testing. The flock's symptoms must meet the following criteria:
- sudden increase in illness and death
- dramatic decrease in egg production
- respiratory signs
- neurologic symptoms and
- significant diarrhea
Birds can be submitted for testing either by the producer or by a veterinarian. First, they must consult with AF staff (see contact information below) and complete the required submission form.
Birds can be submitted to one of the AF labs in Airdrie, Edmonton, Lethbridge or Fairview. Carcasses submitted directly by producers will be tested for AI, NCDV, ILT and Salmonella. Cases referred through a veterinarian will be tested for these diseases and, if the pathologist decides more information is necessary to determine cause of death or illness in the flock, additional examination and testing may be performed.
The submission form must include the premises identification number of the operation. There is no fee for submitting birds for testing; however, producers are responsible for the cost of getting the birds to the laboratory.
If the producer submits the bird, test results will be provided directly to the producer. If the specimen is submitted by a veterinarian, the veterinarian will receive the test results.
For more information about this program or to obtain a submission form or guidelines, please contact Alberta Agriculture and Forestry's pathology unit in Airdrie at 403-948-8575 or Edmonton at 780-422-1923. Dial 310-0000 first for toll-free access in Alberta.