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Containing bird flu

Efforts to control avian influenza need to consider the importance of birds in Indonesians’ lives

Scott Naysmith

   Every day in every district in Indonesia birds are brought from
   surrounding communities to a central marketplace but not all will be
   Scott Naysmith

Rizal, a small-scale commercial poultry farmer in Aceh, employs twelve people in his village. As his two-year-old son stumbles after chickens just beyond arm’s length he spreads a young chick’s wings to reveal discoloration in the breast and comments on how often disease occurs. He knows when his birds are sick and routinely dilutes powdered vitamins in water to promote good health among his flock. He wants to know what else he can do to protect the source of his livelihood.

Five years ago Rizal borrowed money from the community to buy twelve chickens and build a barn. He now owns over 6000 birds. These birds are housed in the six palm-thatched open walled structures that line the back perimeter of his property. Rizal encloses the large coops with plastic sheeting to block colder winds that he fears carry disease in the rainy season. Each structure is elevated about a metre off the ground and the floor is made of rough split boards. There is a two to three inch gap between each board, allowing droppings, a commonly used fertilizer, to collect beneath the structures. Poultry droppings are an effective vector

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