poultry landing picture

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 VDL 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.

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.

To find an APTA in your area or for more information on training, please contact the MPTL via phone at 320-231-5170 or by sending an email.

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. In addition, all hatching eggs, poultry, and ratites must be accompanied by a certificate or test chart approved by the Board to show compliance with disease requirements. Please contact the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory for details.

Hatcheries and Breeding Flock Facilities

Safeguarding poultry health begins before the chick or poult is hatched. Hatchery and breeding flock facilities in Minnesota are required to be permitted with the Board. Obtaining or renewing a permit takes three steps:

  1. File an application with the Board

    • The application gathers information about the facility that includes the types of poultry, hatchery capacity, sources of birds, and planned activities.
    • Applications can be found on our website or by calling the MPTL.
  2. Complete the following test requirements

    • All hatcheries and breeding flocks must be classified as Salmonella Pullorum-Typhoid (P-T) Clean. This can be accomplished by testing the breeder flock or by submitting samples to the MPTL in order to qualify as P-T Clean per NPIP Provisions.
    • Turkey hatcheries and breeding flocks must also test for Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) and Mycoplasma synoviae (MS) and be classified as MG or MS Clean.
    • Commercial hatcheries and breeding flocks may have additional requirements.
  3. Allow inspections by a Board representative

    • Key components of the inspection include reasonably clean and sanitary conditions, identification of hatching eggs and baby poultry and sales records to ensure proper traceability.

When all the requirements have been met and the permit has been approved, a Hatchery Permit Card will be issued which can be used at community sales and exhibitions to assure customers, managers, and other participants that poultry are tested and healthy according to Board standards. Permitted hatcheries and breeding flock facilities also qualify to be listed as an NPIP participant.

Live Bird Markets

A live bird market is a slaughter establishment where live poultry are gathered, kept, sold, and subsequently slaughtered on-site. All live bird markets in Minnesota must be permitted with the Board prior to operating. The facility must be inspected at least once every 12 months by an agent of the Board as part of the permitting process.

Additional requirements for operating a live bird market include maintaining sanitary conditions, record keeping, testing poultry for influenza and cleaning and disinfecting the market after it has been empty for at least 24 hours. These precautions help to keep birds and people healthy.

Influenza

Influenza is a virus that can infect humans and many animal species, including poultry and other birds. Influenza is not uncommon and it has been around for centuries. Influenza in poultry is not a food safety issue.

Influenza in poultry falls into two groups: low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), or highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Similar to influenza symptoms in people, birds infected with LPAI usually experience only mild signs if any, including respiratory signs such as conjunctivitis and nasal discharge, ruffled feathers or a drop in egg production. Unlike LPAI, the first indication of HPAI in poultry is sudden death, often without signs of illness. In the last 40 years, there have been introductions of LPAI in Minnesota poultry all of which have been successfully eliminated. HPAI has never been identified in Minnesota poultry.

The Board continues to work together with Minnesota’s poultry industry and other state and federal agencies to prepare for and respond to introductions of influenza in poultry. The state’s voluntary cooperative control plan includes education, monitoring, reporting, and response. Testing for influenza in poultry is conducted at the Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory in Willmar. Commercial and non-commercial poultry flocks are routinely monitored for influenza.

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 turkey breeder flocks and egg and meat-type chicken breeder 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 meleangridis

A pathogen specifically of turkeys, Mycoplasma meleangridis (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 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 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.