JOHNSON COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) – This week, the USDA announced cases of bird flu had been found in dairy cows in a few states; Texas, Kansas, and Michigan.

Iowa currently isn’t one of those states, but cattle farmers are keeping a close eye.

“The first thing that comes to mind is several years back when it got into the chickens and the turkeys,” said Johnson County Cattle Farmer Steve Swenka. “How they euthanized entire flocks.”

Last year, the avian flu killed nearly 3 million birds in the state of Iowa. That ranges from commercial poultry farms to backyard flocks.

Iowa State Extension Dairy Veterinarian Phillip Jardon said cows in Texas had contracted an unknown illness, which reduced milk production in older cattle. It wasn’t until this week he said pathologists learned it was the bird flu, but they aren’t sure how it happened.

“Birds don’t really follow our rules of where they fly, to where they eat, to where they live,” said Jardon. “It’s probably spread from the birds when they are feeding on feed from the dairy farms when they fly over,” he said.

Jardon said in each of the found cases in Texas, dead birds had been found near the farm. While he said the findings are all still new and research was being done, so far, the virus doesn’t seem to be as deadly to cattle.

“We haven’t had a case of a cow dying,” said Jardon. “It doesn’t seem near as pathogenic to cows as it is to the birds, but again, it’s a developing story. We don’t know a whole lot yet.”

Jardon said it would still be a good idea for farmers, like Swenka, to be vigilant as they get closer to starting selling and moving cattle this season. Swenka, however, worries about what this could mean for the marketplace.

“There’s always a knee-jerk reaction, and 9 times of ten, it’s not good,” he said.



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