Will's Wisdom: Avian Influenza & Dairy Cattle

Posted by Will Harris
Apr 8, 2024 3:47:20 PM

Dairy-Cattle (1)

Avian influenza has been sweeping the headlines recently. But, you know what… I ain’t worried about it. 

I don’t believe that is arrogance. I believe it is just confidence. I am confident in the way we raise our animals. 

The cattle in this photo are wearing collars and standing on concrete. Mine ain’t.

My livestock are all walking around in deep grass that is grown in microbe-rich deep topsoil. I’m willing to bet that this causes my animals to have a strong immune system. I bet that it is strong enough to prevent them from becoming infected with avian influenza. 

Years ago, I sent one of my free-range chickens to the veterinary laboratory for some routine testing. The preliminary results indicated that the bird was presumptively positive for avian influenza. This required further testing that needed 24 hours to determine the results. 

The next day, the state veterinarian called me to say that my bird was fine and no further actions were required. However, he was puzzled that my bird had antigens in its system that indicated that the bird had been exposed to the pathogen and had somehow recovered. 

He asked me if I’d injected the bird with any sort of vaccine. Nope, I had not given the bird any vaccine at all. 

He had no answer for the heightened immunity of my bird, but I was pretty sure that I knew what had happened. 

I’d bet my farm that my bird was exposed to the disease by manure from feces from an infected bird that was flying over White Oak Pastures. But… my chicken had been raised out on open pastures for its whole life. It had not been sequestered in a sterile environment. It had enough good, healthy, natural resistance that allowed it to overcome the lethal plague. 

You know what? My cattle do too.


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