Anza welcomes new poultry after quarantine lifted

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Local poultry enthusiasts are firing up their incubators and selling off excess stock to keep up with demand for birds this summer.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the end to the virulent Newcastle disease quarantine in Southern California Monday, June 1.

Restrictions during the quarantine period prevented the movement and sale of eggs and birds for over two years, requiring newcomers to the area to wait to stock their empty coops.

Chicks, keets, goslings, ducklings and poults can be heard peeping on most ranches and farms. Owners watch the little fuzzies grow and flourish.

Virulent Newcastle disease is a virus that affects birds with particularly lethal effects on poultry, affecting the digestive, nervous and respiratory systems. It spreads quickly between birds but is not considered a human health threat. Its presence can be so detrimental to poultry health and the food supply that it triggers state, federal and international regulatory responses.

Virulent Newcastle disease was first discovered in May 2018 in Los Angeles County. By December 2018, the virus had spread extensively in small flocks in the Los Angeles Basin and also infected large commercial flocks. Millions of birds were euthanized.

After prolonged disease control efforts, the last confirmed positive case was detected in February 2020. Testing continued throughout the area since that time to gain assurance that the disease was eradicated.

The ability to now legally move and sell fertile eggs, hatchlings, young birds and grown poultry is celebrated by enthusiasts, collectors and breeders alike. Out-of-state hatcheries can ship eggs and chicks to buyers in Southern California.

Anza poultry owners in the Anza Valley are enjoying their new birds as they are meant to be enjoyed – happy and healthy.