Farmers concerned over bird flu outbreak

Farmers concerned over bird flu outbreak

LEETONIA, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio farmers are on edge as a deadly bird flu moves closer to the state.

So far, it has killed 40 million birds in the United States. Ohio is the second largest egg producer in the country, which contributes $2.3 billion to the state’s economy.

Lee and Dawn Lictenwalner own Dandelion Lane Farm in Leetonia. They raise 250 birds, including chickens, ducks and turkeys. The Lictenwalners are very concerned about the threat of avian or bird flu.

“If the bird flu hits, it could wipe me out in a single weekend. All the feed, the time, the energy, not to mention the cost of cleaning up everything, which means you basically come in with a 55-gallon drum of bleach or something equivalent to sterilize all the ground. That would be absolutely devastating,” Lee Lictenwalner said.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture says an infected bird can pass on avian flu through direct contact with another bird or by contaminating an area with the virus. If a bird gets the flu, Lee said it won’t eat or drink, gets pale, doesn’t act normal and lays around a lot.

“Each one of those birds, for instance, we get $5 a pound for them and they top out at 20 pounds times 50 birds. You know, that’s a lot of money,” Dawn Lictenwalner said.

To protect the farm, they simply have visitors dip their feet in a chlorine and water mixture before and after visiting with the birds.

“What it does, is it kills any bacteria that’s on their feet. We don’t want things transported to our farm or to their farm,” Lee Lictenwalner said.

The Lictenwalners learned the technique, called bio-security, from a farmer in Arkansas who found success with it. And just to be safe, they say farmers call one another before stopping over for a visit.

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