Bird Flu Confirmed in Iceland


Bird flu has been confirmed in three wild birds in Iceland in recent days: a pink-footed goose in Hornafjörður in Southeast Iceland, a raven in Skeiða in South Iceland, and a gannet in Selvogur, also in South Iceland. The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) issued a statement about the presence of bird flu on Friday. But while poultry farmers are advised to take precautions to keep their chickens from becoming infected, the general public is not considered to be at risk for contracting the infection from consuming eggs or poultry.

MAST has activated its plan for responding to and preventing infectious diseases in birds.

Authorities have identified the bird flu variant in question to be H5N1. This variant is the most common one in neighbouring countries but has not been found to cause infections in humans. MAST emphasizes that eating eggs or poultry is not thought to pose any risk of infection for humans. People are, however, cautioned about interacting with or touching sick or dead birds. The public is asked to report dead birds whose cause of death is clearly not an accident of some kind on the MAST website so the agency can determine if samples and testing are needed.

Following MAST’s announcement, RÚV reported that hens at a farm in Skeiða (the town where the infected raven was found) showed symptoms of the bird flu and were slaughtered as a result. Samples were taken from the culled poultry and sent for testing; results were still pending at time of writing. Poultry farmers and bird owners are urged to keep their birds under a roof and fenced in, so as to prevent infection from wild birds.

Chicken Feathers an Underutilised By-Product of Poultry Industry

A poultry company and a research organisation have put forth a new use for chicken feathers: feed for pigs, domestic pets, fish, and other animals. RÚV reports that Matís, a government-owned, independent research firm, and Reykjagarður ehf., the company behind the Holta poultry product brand, have published a report which concludes that chicken feathers are an underutilised by-product of the poultry industry.

The partners’ research indicates that chicken feathers are rich in protein and could, for instance, replace up to 30% of fishmeal without having any ill effect on farmed cod.

“In order to utilise chicken feathers as feather meal nutritious for animal cultivation, proteins are degraded to make the feather meal digestible for farming animals,” reads the report’s English summary. “In this project feather meal from chicken feathers was hydrolysed to increase the digestibility. The chemical content of the feather meal was examined as well as amino acids composition. The Icelandic feather meal was also compared to results of researches conducted elsewhere on feather meal. Feather meal has an 80% protein content and its digestibility is comparable to fish meal. Feather meal has been used for a long time in feed in North and South America and has in recent years been pushing itself as a cheap protein source for farming animals in Europe.”

Iceland produces around 2,000 tonnes of chicken feathers every year. Therefore, the report continues, utilising this poultry by-product as feed would make the poultry industry more environmentally friendly, as the feathers are currently landfilled. Iceland intends to reduce the amount of waste that is landfilled every year by 2020; finding a new use for chicken feathers would aid in that goal, say researchers. The feathers would also not have to be imported, like other kinds feed, and would create additional value within the poultry industry.