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Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory

The Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory (MPTL), located in Willmar serves as the official or Authorized Laboratory for the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) in Minnesota. It is also the center for management of the Board’s poultry programs. In addition, the MPTL serves as the Official State Agency for administration of the NPIP. The MPTL performs all of the required disease testing for the state’s poultry industry, in addition to a full range of poultry diagnostic serology testing which includes testing for Salmonella, influenza, Mycoplasma and other poultry diseases.

As a cooperative venture between the Board and the University of Minnesota, the primary focus of the MPTL is to serve and support Minnesota’s poultry industry: turkey, meat-type chicken (broiler), egg-type chicken (layer), upland game bird and backyard/waterfowl/exhibition poultry. Though large commercial flocks make up the majority of poultry in the state and the bulk of testing at the MPTL, thousands of tests are conducted each year on smaller and backyard poultry flocks.

The MPTL cooperates with the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) in St. Paul where necropsies are conducted and other types of molecular diagnostic testing are performed. For more information, contact the VDL at 612-625-8787 or visit the website.

Test submission forms and testing supplies can be ordered via email or by calling the MPTL at 320-231-5170.

National Poultry Improvement Plan

The National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) is a cooperative Federal-State-Industry program established in 1935 to eradicate Pullorum-Typhoid Disease.  The program has evolved over the years to incorporate new diagnostic technology and effectively improve poultry and poultry products throughout the country. As a result many egg-transmitted, hatchery-disseminated poultry diseases have been eradicated or controlled. NPIP participants include hatcheries, breeding flocks, poultry dealers, processing plants and even states if they meet certain disease control standards. As a result, customers can be assured that the poultry they buy has been tested and is free of certain diseases.

Being a member of NPIP allows greater ease in moving hatching eggs and live birds within the state, across state lines, and to other countries. In fact, most countries will not accept poultry products unless they come from a NPIP participant.

The Board serves as the Official State Agency for the administration and oversight of NPIP programs in Minnesota. These duties include interstate commerce, import/export, disease surveillance, testing, permitting and disease response plan activities. Please contact the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory if you would like more information on the NPIP.

There is a new NPIP Biosecurity Audit process being handled by the Official State Agency, which is the Board of Animal Health.  Please follow this link to learn about the program and audit process.

Biosecurity

Protecting your birds from disease has always been important. However, taking biosecurity to the next level is now more crucial than ever. As we work together to eliminate HPAI and add strength to Minnesota’s poultry industry, there are small steps you can take that will have a big impact.

  1. Eliminate opportunities for your birds to interact with wild birds. We know that wild waterfowl are carriers of disease, including HPAI. The best way to avoid diseases that wildlife carry is to keep domestic animals separated from the wild.
  2. If you have birds at home, do not visit another farm, home or facility that also has birds. If you must visit another premises, be sure to shower and put on clean clothes and shoes beforehand.
  3. Remember that vehicles can be vehicles for disease transmission. Before you drive down the road, consider where you are going. Will you be heading to the fair, another farm or a live bird market? If the answer is yes, be sure your vehicle is clean and free of dirt, manure and other organic material.
  4. Early detection can help prevent the spread of disease. Knowing the signs to look for and monitoring the health of your birds on a regular basis is very important. Some signs to look for include nasal discharge, unusually quiet birds, decreased food and water consumption, drop in egg production, and increased/unusual death loss in your flock.
  5. Report sick and dead birds to state health officials immediately. If your poultry appear sick or you have experienced increased mortality, please contact the MPTL at 320-231-5170.

Authorized Poultry Testing Agents

All samples collected to meet test requirements for Board or National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) programs must be collected by individuals trained and certified as authorized poultry testing agents (APTA). APTAs are individuals who have been trained by the Board to test poultry for Pullorum-Typhoid (P-T) using the rapid whole blood test. Testing agents can also collect samples for other poultry program disease testing at the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory.

To become certified as an APTA, interested individuals are required to participate in a one-day classroom training session as well as one-on-one field instruction training by a Board representative. Authorizations are valid for four years.

For more information on APTA training, please contact the MPTL via phone at 320-231-5170 or by sending an email.

Poultry Exhibition Requirements

All chickens, turkeys and game birds at exhibitions, except baby poultry, must be individually identified with a leg or wing band.

At exhibitions, all chickens, turkeys, game birds, and hatching eggs from these birds must be accompanied by a certificate or test chart approved by the board to show compliance with the following requirement:

  • Pullorum-typhoid – originate from a hatchery or breeding flock that is classified U.S. Pullorum-Typhoid Clean under the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP); or be negative to a pullorum-typhoid test within 90 days prior to the opening date of exhibition.

For questions related to poultry exhibition requirements, please contact the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory at 320-231-5170.

Community Sales

Community sales are permitted public sales of livestock or poultry where two or more persons come together to offer for sale livestock or poultry for purposes other than immediate slaughter.

All poultry and ratites at community sales, except baby poultry, must be individually identified with a leg or wing band.

All hatching eggs, poultry, and ratites must be accompanied by a certificate or test chart approved by the Board to show compliance with the following requirements:

  • Pullorum-typhoid – originate from a hatchery or breeding flock that is classified U.S. Pollorum-Typhoid Clean under the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP); or be negative to a pullorum-typhoid test within 30 days prior to the sale.
  • For questions related to poultry community sale requirements, please contact the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory at 320-231-5170.

Poultry Dealers

A poultry dealer is any person or entity engaged in the business of buying and then selling or distributing live poultry, hatching eggs, or ratites on a regular basis for the person’s own account or the account of others.  All poultry dealers must obtain a permit from the Board prior to buying, selling, trading, or distributing hatching eggs, poultry, or ratites in the state. The poultry dealer’s place of business must be inspected by an agent of the Board to determine all poultry meet the required disease classification status, the poultry dealer’s place of business is maintained in a reasonably clean and sanitary condition, and records are retained for at least three years.

Hatcheries and Breeding Flock Facilities

Safeguarding poultry health begins before the chick or poult hatches. Hatchery and breeding flock facilities in Minnesota are required to be permitted with the Board. Prior to issuance of a permit, an application must be filed with the Board and the hatchery or breeding flock facility must be inspected by an agent of the Board to determine that the hatchery or breeding flock facility meets all testing requirements; the hatchery or breeding flock facility is maintained in a reasonably clean and sanitary condition; and records are retained as required.

Pullorum-typhoid

All hatcheries and breeding flocks in the state must meet the requirements of the U.S. Pullorum-Typhoid Clean program.

Mycoplasma gallisepticum and Mycoplasma synoviae

All commercial egg-type chicken, commercial meat-type chicken, or commercial turkey hatcheries or breeding flocks in the state must meet the requirements of the U.S. Mycoplasma Gallisepticum Clean and Mycoplasma Synoviae Clean.

Salmonella enteritidis

All commercial egg-type chicken hatcheries or breeding flocks in the state must meet the requirements of the U.S. Salmonella enteritidis Clean program.

Sanitation monitored program

All commercial turkey hatcheries or breeding flocks in the state must meet the requirements of the U.S. Sanitation Monitored program.

Records

Records of testing, inspections, and other documents as required by the plan must be maintained by each hatchery or breeding flock facility. Records must be maintained on all poultry, hatching eggs, and ratites that enter or leave a hatchery or breeding flock facility. For each group of poultry, hatching eggs, or ratites that enter or leave a hatchery or breeding flock facility, records must include the date, the number and type of poultry, hatching eggs, or ratites, and the origin and destination. Records required in this subpart must be maintained for at least three years.

Mycoplasma

Mycoplasma are bacteria-like microorganisms that cause disease in poultry and can be spread through bird-to-bird contact, egg or hatchery transmission, or contact with contaminated equipment. Mycoplasma species that cause significant problems in poultry are Mycoplasma gallisepticum, Mycoplasma meleagridis and Mycoplasma synoviae. Mycoplasma in poultry is not a public health concern, but can be a significant disease issue for breeder flocks, hatcheries, poultry producers and poultry processing plants.

Mycoplasma gallisepticum

Commonly known as chronic respiratory disease in chickens and infectious sinusitis in turkeys, Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) is characterized by coughing, nasal discharge and conjunctivitis, and frequently in turkeys, infraorbital sinusitis. MG is the most pathogenic and economically significant form of Mycoplasma.

All commercial turkey breeder flocks, egg-type chicken and meat-type chicken flocks are required to participate in the MG Clean program of the NPIP. Any breeder flock that tests positive for MG is quarantined by the Board.  Positive flocks are usually depopulated.

Minnesota has been classified as MG Clean for turkeys since 1980 and MG Clean for meat-type chickens since 2003.

Mycoplasma meleagridis

A pathogen specifically of turkeys, Mycoplasma meleagridis (MM) is an egg-transmitted disease in which the primary lesion is airsacculitis in the progeny. Economic losses associated with MM in turkeys have been primarily from egg-borne infections. The economic losses have been reduced substantially with the availability of MM-free eggs and poults. Testing for MM is voluntary, although testing for most commercial turkey breeding flocks is very common.

Mycoplasma synoviae

Mycoplasma synoviae (MS) infections are most likely to cause upper respiratory infections or infectious synovitis involving the joints and tendons of the birds. At other times, MS becomes systemic and results in chronic infectious disease of chickens and turkeys. MS as with other Mycoplasma species is an egg transmitted disease which has the potential to become widespread in a short time period without proper and timely breeder flock surveillance.

All commercial turkey breeder flocks, egg-type layer and meat-type chicken breeder flocks are required to participate in the MS program. Breeder flocks that test positive for MS are quarantined by the Board. Positive flocks are eligible to participate in a Board approved salvage program or can be depopulated.

Minnesota has been classified as MS Clean for turkeys since 2003.

Pullorum-Typhoid

Pullorum-Typhoid (P-T) is a disease caused by a Salmonella species that infects chickens, turkeys, and other types of poultry. This disease is egg-transmitted and can produce high death loss in the young birds. Birds that survive a P-T infection are carriers for life and can infect other birds.

Thanks to the NPIP, P-T has been nearly eliminated from poultry flocks in the United States. Blood-testing potential breeding birds and culling infected birds are required to eradicate this egg-borne disease and break the disease cycle. Breeders that test negative produce non-infected hatching eggs, chicks and poults.

Salmonella

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause illness in humans and animals. Salmonella is a public health concern because people can become infected through direct contact with animals, their environment or if food is not handled and prepared properly

While there are many different Salmonella species, Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) and Salmonella Typhimurium (ST) are among the most common serotypes that cause illness in people. All egg-type chicken breeding flocks and hatcheries participate in the NPIP SE Clean Program. Turkey and meat-type chicken breeding flocks and hatcheries can participate in Sanitation Monitored Programs through the NPIP which establish guidelines for reducing and monitoring salmonella levels in breeding flocks and hatcheries.

Virulent Newcastle Disease

Virulent Newcastle Disease (vND) is a highly contagious viral avian disease that is characterized by rapid spread and high mortality rates. Many birds die without showing any clinical signs. A death rate of almost 100 percent can occur among unvaccinated flocks. Vaccinated birds are also susceptible to vND but at a lower death rate than vaccinated birds. Since vND affects the respiratory, nervous and digestive systems, infected birds may show a wide array of symptoms. Some symptoms include sneezing, coughing, watery green diarrhea, depression, drooping wings or complete paralysis.

Minnesota has never had a case of vND in poultry. However, a less serious form of the disease has been identified in wild waterfowl in the state in past years. Waterfowl have the ability to spread disease to poultry through droppings and nose, mouth and eye secretions. As a result, poultry producers have taken additional steps to keep their birds healthy by increasing biosecurity. Among other measures, one of the most effective ways to protect poultry is by making sure they are separated from wild birds.

Though deadly for birds, vND does not pose any significant risk to human health. Poultry and egg products are safe to consume. In rare cases, humans have contracted vND from infected birds, typically resulting in conjunctivitis with a rapid recovery. When infection is seen in humans, it is most common in laboratory workers, vaccinating crews, and rarely, in poultry handlers.