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Mill hopes change to feed helps cows infected with Avian Flu

Posted at 7:27 PM, Jun 12, 2024
  • A Mason resident is heading the change in feed at a mill that delivers to hundreds of farmers
  • Avian Flu has infected several herds of Michigan cattle since March

Rob West looked on as one of his workers banged his hammer onto the side of a feed tube Monday morning.
West said the feed gets stuck over the weekend when the mill is closed so they hammer the tube to loosen it up.

After a few minutes, and with help from West, workers were able to dislodge the stuck feed as it cascaded into a truck headed to a local farm.

The workers at Caledonia Farmers Elevator fill around 20 trucks a day to deliver 500 tons of feed each day. Each month they deliver to around 100-200 farms says West, the mill's director of animal nutrition.

"Up until February this year, nobody even had bird flu on their radars," West said.

Since March, cases of Avian Flu have appeared in several herds of cattle, leading state health officials to require dairy and poultry farms to close to visitors for the time being.

Experts say transmission to humans is low at this time, though two of three U.S. cases have been reported in Michigan.

West says they've been changing and adding ingredients like zinc to the feed in order to help cows heal from the Avian Flu.

"Studies have proven that zinc is good for the immune system so we've added more zinc to the diets," West said.

Worker at Caledonia Farmers Elevator checks on one of the ingredients to the feed

The mill is also taking precautions with their workers by giving them plastic covering for their shoes so they don't spread the virus when they visit different farms.

"We're washing trucks more frequently," West said. "On the farm, we're disinfecting tires."

But West says it feels like living in Covid times again with guidelines constantly changing. That's why he's trying his best to stay on top of any new developments.

"We don't want to be the source of that spread," West said. "At the end of the day, we have to follow the regulations because it's what we have to do."

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Mason, Leslie

Neighborhood Reporter

Hannah McIlree