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Restrict the occurrence of bird flu amongst ostriches

16 May 2005

Suggestions to restrict the occurrence of bird flu amongst ostriches by changes in management.

The following management practises could help prevent the infection of ostriches with the bird flu virus:

  • Water troughs should be cleaned at least once a week. Drain the water and scrub the trough clean with a virocidal disinfectant (e.g. Virkon®, Chlorine, F10, etc.) before filling it up with clean water. The manufacturer or local agent can be contacted to obtain more information regarding the concentration needed for a specific product.
  • Do not allow water troughs to fill up completely, it causes spillage of water when the ostriches drink and the resultant puddle can attract wild birds.
  • Empty the water troughs in camps where no ostriches are currently kept. The empty camps, with freely available water, can attract wild waterfowl, which may use the area as a breeding spot. Cement water troughs can be wetted regularly to prevent them from forming cracks.
  • Feeding troughs should be cleaned and moved to a different spot each time before new feed is given. This will prevent the build-up of faeces and other possible infected materials in the feed.
  • If maize is used in the feed, it is preferable to use broken rather than whole kernels. Whole kernels are more visible from the air and may attract wild birds (especially Egyptian geese).
  • In cases where doves are present in large numbers on the farm, it might help to give pelleted feed.
  • Wild waterfowl are a problem in Lucerne fields. To avoid contact between these birds and the ostriches it might be wise to cut the Lucerne and feed it to the ostriches, rather than let them graze in the field.
  • Water- and feeding troughs should as far as possible be designed to be “unfriendly” for wild birds. The usual cement troughs and tyres create an ideal environment for these birds. Smaller water troughs that are elevated off the ground and have sharp edges and self-feeders will discourage wild birds from making use of these resources.

Source: South African Ostrich Business Chamber

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