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The Fight to Fend Off Bird Flu With Lasers and Inflatable Dancers

Loren Brey, a poultry grower in Minnesota, walked onto the farm where his egg-laying turkeys nest in November to discover a handful of hens, dead from the highly pathogenic avian flu.

Within a week, he lost nearly half of his entire flock.

So when Mr. Brey’s turkeys began producing eggs again in the spring, he gave a seemingly unconventional prevention method a go: lasers installed atop his barns, firing beams of green light to fend off wild ducks, owls and other possible carriers of the deadly virus.

As migratory birds fly north for the spring, poultry farmers and backyard keepers across the country are bracing for yet another outbreak of avian flu. Although the most recent strain has felled only a small portion of the nearly 10 billion chickens, turkeys, ducks and other birds sold across the country each year, some poultry growers like Mr. Brey are turning to innovative tactics to protect their flocks, deploying deterrents like drones, air horns, balloons and decoy predators.

The practices underline the scramble by smaller farms and even some larger-scale operations to ward off the virus, as well as the fatigue, and begrudging acceptance, of the illness after years of sanitation protocols, lockdowns and debates over vaccination.


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