h5n1 in chicken n duck manure inc in fish ponds?

I received an email from a correspondent, Jo, which led to ideas

H5N1 Bird Flu Maybe Linked to Fish Farming


Also noticed on this list of articles (link below) information about farmers in Vietnam accused of dumping at least 100 tonnes of chicken manure a day into a lake to feed the fish - I rest my case! 

- sent out an email re this to several people interested in H5N1 and conservation; led to flurry of info. - notable partly as mute swans dying of H5N1 in Croatia (with one of them ringed in Hungary during prior stopover, with dates showing it surely didn't carry H5N1 from Siberia, but likely caught in Croatia); also in Romania, where a BBC report mentioned over 80 swans dying on a fishpond. Info including:

As far I know this [using chicken faeces for feeding fish] is traditional habits in et least Ex Jugoslavia, so very probably also in Croatia.

last year I was working on grey partridges near Varazdin, north of the current outbreaks. The area (northern Slavonia) has a lot of small-scale (10 sheds or so) but intensive chicken-rearing due to the large quantities of wheat and maize raised in the area. Lots of the produce goes to Austria and Slovenia. As I went around the fields I was shocked to find large quantities of fresh chicken manure (together with the odd dead chicken) piled up here and there around the fields. I asked the gamekeeper and he told me that for a small fee the farms will deliver manure wherever you ask them to. It's left to weather down in the fields, often next to drainage ditches and streams.

In Czech Republic they fertilise carp ponds with NPK to produce a green soup of algae in the ponds. There are plenty of carp rearing set-ups in Slavonia.

From my research on storks in Israel I remember that at most ponds there was a place where manure from Turkey & Chicken was put and spread in the ponds. Probably a common practise.

In relation to fish-related issue, it would be worth paying attention to fish as a potential carrier of the virus. At least one Orthomyxoviridae virus (Isavirus, salmon virus) infects fish. This virus is thought to have originated from avian influenza (or the reverse). In addition to chicken manure, import of fry in fish raising is popular, and it would be meaningful to experimentally test whether some fish species can maintain the influenza virus.

more from Jo:

1.http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4347860.stm Romanian villages tackle bird flu ………………… like the fish farm behind Maliuc, ………………………..

2.  In recent years pond fisheries have begun to develop in Siberia, the Urals and northern Kazakhstan.

3.  The importance of poultry wastes in aquaculture is relatively recent. In areas of traditional fish culture, ruminant and pig manure have predominated as pond fertilisers in the Subcontinent and China respectively. Poultry manure was not used to any extent probably because small flock size and extensive management precluded collection. Poultry production wastes have inherent qualities that make them particularly valuable for fish production compared to other livestock wastes (Table 1).

Poultry wastes are more nutrient dense than other livestock wastes. Typically they contain less moisture, fibre and compounds such as tannins that discolour water when used as fish pond fertilisers. Commercial `feedlot' production leads to concentration of nutrient-rich waste which can be handled and transported cost-effectively. This may mean that the opportunity costs of poultry manure are higher, and their use for horticulture particularly is common.

The small individual size of poultry also allows their confinement and production directly over fish ponds. Poultry manure is now widely used in commercial freshwater aquaculture. In central Thailand, use of livestock wastes is the norm in the production of cheaper herbivorous fish.

Poultry processing byproducts such as chicken bones, intestines and whole carcasses have greater value as `direct' feeds and are normally used for higher value fish species raised more intensively. High fish standing stocks can be maintained and yields produced using this type of product and management. Processing wastes can be used fresh, or after further processing, as good quality supplementary, or complete, feeds.

Poultry manure is used either directly on-site, through the siting of poultry houses over ponds, or after collection, storage and transport to the site of fish culture. Construction of the poultry house over the pond allows waste to drop directly in. Poultry slaughterhouse wastes are in great demand for feeding hybrid clarias catfish (Clarias macrocephalus x Clarias garipinus) in Thailand.

There has also been implicit connections made between integrated livestock-fish systems and influenza pandemics (Scholtissek and Naylor, 1988); this disturbing theory has led to widespread comment and discussion of the desirability and impacts of integrated farming (Edwards et al., 1988; Morse,1990; Skladany,1992 ). The theory maintains that integrated aquaculture encourages the raising of pigs and poultry together to provide manure for fish and that this in turn increases the risks of new forms of influenza developing……….

Also, from another interested party:

Chicken manure-related reference: http://www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/grp-spe_v13n1-en-2004052100.pdf "Public Health & Epidemiology Bulletin" Avian influenza virus can survive, at cool temperatures, in contaminated manure for at least three months. Lethal dose of contaminated water:


"Routes of infection of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Japan" Contaminated water can be considered the most dangerous route of infection. When 1g of feces (10 million virus particles) was dissolved in a tub (100L), the virus density was 100 particles/ml of water; actually, however, uric acid in the feces has the effect of weakening this. However, even water that is contaminated with virus of very low density, the lethal dose for the establishment of infection in chickens is about 300 particles and, if about 200ml of water per day is ingested, there is the possibility the chickens could become infected... (Although this report mentions wild birds, the true route of invasion was not yet clarified).

Chicken manure does seem to be very popularly used: "The Economic Benefit of Chicken Manure Utilization in Fish Production in Thailand"

"Public, animal, and environmental health implications of aquaculture" The abuse and misuse of raw chicken manure as pond fertilizer may result in the transmission of Salmonella from manure to the cultured product. (Philippins) ...

The same would be true for H5N1.

"Nitrogen Flow in Can Tho Province" It was regarded that chicken manure from large chicken farms was exported to surrounding provinces (Thong, private communication). (farming system in Mekong delta) Pellet form of chicken manure (Thailand):

You probably able to find whatever you may imagine...

While here an article on: Poultry and fish production-a framework for their integration in Asia - includes:

one hectare of static water fish ponds can `process' the wastes of up to 1500 poultry, producing fish in quantities of up to 10 MT/ha without other feeds or fertilisers. Also, since effluents are few, environmental impacts are minimal. ...

The importance of poultry wastes in aquaculture is relatively recent. ...

Poultry manure has been used widely in both fresh and brackish water aquaculture. In the latter, Penaeid shrimp, Milkfish (Channos channos) and Tilapia (Oreochromis sp.) have been the principle species raised (figure 1). Inland culture systems in which poultry and fish such as the carps, tilapias and catfish are raised in commercial and subsistence sytems are the focus of this review. Poultry manure is now widely used in commercial freshwater aquaculture.

- see also Farm fish fed dead chickens in Indonesia on this site; has photos from a couple of farms in Java.

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New post to aiwatch, newsgroup re h5n1 and conservation:

Perhaps this paper might be of potential interest:

"Pastoral Landscapes in the Qinghai Lake Area: Current Developments and Trends" (with photos, maps and figures) I have spotted the following phrase: Continuing westward along the south shore of Qinghai Lake, a state-owned "fish factory" enterprise ...

I wonder if dead cormorants may have fed on these fish. Shuttle photo of Qinghai Lake, please enjoy:

quickly followed by:

I checked on Google, and it seems the FAO were involved in setting up fish farms in Qinghai Province in the early 1990s through something called the Qinghai Lake study group. The relevant publications are all on the FAO site. Their titles can be found under China at: http://www.fao.org/documents/show_cdr.asp?url_file=/docrep/W7283E/W7283E... I find it easiest to locate the individual reports by using Google's Advanced Search to match the exact title of the relevant paper. I haven't worked my way through these papers yet - to find out if any mention fisheries set up at the lake itself, or what they feed the fish on. FAO of course have papers on their site which recommend the use of chicken faeces as fertiliser in fish farming. They also have a paper on avian flu in which they describe as "high risk production practices" "the keeping of chickens over fish ponds; the use of untreated chicken faeces as fertilizer or livestock feed" Makes you think, doesn't it?

further emails (combined here):
"Qinghai Lake: Is it really all dried up?" Herdspeople who weren't uprooted were advised to switch from open grazing to pen-rearing their livestock. In a bid to replenish fish resources, local governments prohibited fishing in the lake in the 1980s. In 1997, a fish farm was started and 15 million artificially bred Gymnocypris przewalskii fries have been released to the lake since then.
"Qinghai Lake" etc. Qhnews.com seems to have been established very recently (2004).
"Qinghai Lake splits into several lakes" This picture reminds me of Aral Sea... However, 85 percent of the rivers around the lake have dried up now, including the Buh River, the lake's largest tributary. More recent news:
the inspection instructs the high pathogenic birds and beasts flu to guard against controls seals the lake with Lake Qinghai nurtures the fish work, (original text looks like to read "restrict fish farming") The middle part of the article deals with fish farming. Must educate guides masses to change domesticated fowl raising way,... Must further do well poultry's immunity work, achieves [...] Increases to the poultry transaction market, the poultry slaughters the spot, the birds and beasts class food processing factory

Just found a couple more references inc fish ponds and chicken manure; both on FAO site.

Report on Asia-Pacific Regional Research and Training Centre for Integrated Fish Farming, in China, includes:
"Preliminary results show that fresh chicken manure is better than fremented chicken manure for fish production Purposes."

Also research from Hungary, including use of chicken manure in fishponds:

Interesting that it was (mute?) swans impacted in Volga, as Croatia, and Romania (tho a few wild ducks there too?)
Do they have an affinity for fishponds? Might the outbreaks, beginning around mid-Oct I think, have signalled arrival of H5N1 in poultry - or at least in chicken manure - in eastern Europe?

Seems that, as in Croatia, the Volga swans didn't transmit the virus to other wild birds [tho also confusing in this articiel re whether poisoning is major cause of recent deaths]:

No avian flu found in dead birds in Russia’s Kalmykia
ROSTOV ON DON, December 5 (Itar-Tass) -- No avian flu was found in the wild birds that died in Kalmykia, a tiny republic on the Caspian, according to preliminary findings reported by the southern regional centre of the Emergencies Ministry on Monday.
Thick fog prevents specialists from continuing the search for the dead fowl. But it will resume immediately as soon as the weather improves. The examination of the dead birds’ blood and tissue samples continues in order to determine the exact cause of their death.

Thirty-three dead swans were found on the Caspian coast in Kalmykia’s Lagansky district on November 27. Several days later, another 117 dead swans were found. All of them were cremated. No dead or sick species have been registered among domestic fowl.

Authorities in the neighbouring Astrakhan region, where mass swan deaths were reported in the Volga delta, are creating an electronic map of problem areas. A total of 493 dead birds (mainly swans) have been found in the region since November 17. Analyses confirmed avian flu.

No new deaths among wild fowls have been registered in the region over the past few days, and no sick birds have been reported among domestic poultry.

According to the regional branch of the Emergencies Ministry, “A colossal number of birds are amassing in the Volga delta, including more than 15,000 migrant grey swans. A team of specialists has been sent to the place of the latest swan deaths. No deaths among wild birds and domestic fowl from avian flu have been registered in the Volga delta. And no people have got sick.”

Despite the confirmed avian flu diagnosis, specialists do not rule out that poisoning might have been the cause of the death. “Mass deaths of birds have occurred in the country many times, and there have been numerous natural calamities and industrial accidents, fish kills or waste water leakages,” the head of the local branch of the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor), Anatoly Kovtunov said, adding at the same time, “We know that the dead birds were infected with avian flu”.

About three weeks ago rescuers reported a 50-kilometre spill of unidentified nature, with double the maximum permissible level of cadmium, was moving towards the region. Water intakes were stopped in Astrakhan at that time.

Meanwhile, authorities have imposed quarantine in the section of the Volga delta where the mass death of swans occurred, as well as within a 30-kilometre radius from it.

Villages in the Volga delta are under quarantine, and domestic birds stay indoors. Access to regional poultry farms is now limited for safety reasons. Local farmers get instructions as to what to do in case new fowl deaths or signs of infection are registered. Police check vehicles to prevent unsanctioned poultry exports to other regions of the country.

The Astrakhan veterinarian service said swan deaths had started near the Astrakhan Nature Park a week before. The Astrakhan regional chief veterinarian said that plenty of birds had amassed in the Volga delta. “Only swans born in spring have died. They might have been weakened by the long voyage,” he said. The situation is being controlled, and blood samples of waterfowl are being taken.

Article from New Zealand Herald - 28/12/05

Bird flu could be linked to fish farming

28.12.05 1.00pm
By Michael McCarthy

Bird flu may be spread by using chicken dung as feed in fish farms, a practice now routine in Asia, the world's leading bird conservation organisation believes.

Fertilising fish ponds with poultry faeces, which can dramatically improve fish growth, may in fact set up major new reservoirs of avian influenza infection if the chickens providing the manure are infected themselves, according to BirdLife International, the Cambridge-based umbrella body for bird protection groups in more than 100 countries.

The suggestion, which has echoes of the BSE problem in Britain, in which cattle were infected by organic feed, is an explosive one, on an international scale.

It puts a serious question mark over a technique firmly backed by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as a primary means of providing protein for mushrooming populations in the developing countries - suggesting that millions of people, instead of being helped by it, might ultimately die because of it, in a global pandemic.

Known as integrated livestock-fish farming, the technique involves transferring the wastes from raising pigs, ducks or chickens directly to fish farms, with chicken or duck sheds sometimes sited directly over the fish ponds themselves.

At the right dosage, the nutrients in the manure give an enormous boost to the growth of plankton in the ponds, which are the main food of fish such as carp and tilapia.

This is taking place on an enormous scale. According to an FAO report from two years ago, it is now the main basis for aquaculture in China and neighbouring countries.

"Livestock wastes purposely used in ponds, or draining into them, support the production of most cultured fish in Asia," the report said.

"Much of the vast increase in China's recent inland aquaculture production is linked to organic fertilisation, provided by the equally dramatic growth of poultry and pig production."

BirdLife International is now calling for an investigation into the possibility that these thousands of manure-fed ponds across Asia may be the means by which the new, potentially deadly strain of avian influenza, H5N1, is being spread.

BirdLife points out that outbreaks of H5N1 have occurred this year at locations in China, Romania and Croatia where there are fish farms.

The Chinese outbreak, which involved a big die-off of 6000 wild birds, mainly bar-headed geese, took place in May this year at Qinghai Lake, a location where the FAO helped establish an integrated livestock-fish farm in the early 1990s, BirdLife said.

"This outbreak helped lead to the widespread media speculation about wild birds spreading H5N1," said BirdLife's Richard Thomas.

"We pointed out that bar-headed geese migrate from India, where H5N1 has never occurred, and migrate early, so they must have contracted the disease locally, at Qinghai."

BirdLife does not think that wild birds are vectors - carriers - of H5N1, and believes that the widespread speculation during the autumn that migratory birds would spread bird flu from Asia far and wide into Europe was entirely misplaced.

"Millions of birds have now migrated, and it hasn't happened," said BirdLife's Director and Chief Executive, Dr Michael Rands.

"Wild birds are victims, not vectors, of avian influenza. We believe that when wild birds get it, they're very susceptible, and die before they can move very far. Some fall over straight away."

Although no mention was been made of the possible links between manure-fed ponds and influenza in the recent alarm over bird flu, it has been raised before, and the FAO, although actively promoting the technique, is well aware of the threat.

A FAO report from 2003, "Integrated Livestock-Fish Farming Systems," noted: "Recently, livestock and fish have been implicated in the irregular occurrence of influenza pandemics; the global impacts on public health of promoting livestock and fish integration are huge if these claims are substantiated."

In fact, the FAO has been aware that some scientists think there is a risk for very much longer.

The references to the 2003 report include one to a paper published in Nature, the international scientific journal, as long ago as 1988.

This paper, by Christoph Scholtissek from the University of Giessen in Germany and Ernest Naylor from the University of Bangor in North Wales was headed "Fish Farming and Influenza Pandemics", said that bringing together fish farms with farm livestock "may well be the creation of a considerable human health hazard."

However, the FAO has continued to promote integrated livestock-fish farming actively throughout the ensuing period.

Dr Rands said: "There appears to be some circumstantial evidence that one of the ways in which the disease might be spreading is through the use of chicken faeces for feeding fish.

"We are not aware that people have confirmed that that is a likely cause - but people have suggested it. If it's a possibility, and if it presents a serious human health risk, it certainly ought to be researched, and if it has been researched, the research should be out there for us all to see."

He went on: "Wild birds are often being blamed for the spread of avian influenza, but as far as we can tell there is no clear evidence, in fact no evidence.

"The science that there is suggests that wild birds are not to blame for the spread. If you look at migration routes and spread of the disease, the correlation is really quite poor. Millions of birds migrated this autumn, and if they really were the means of spreading bird flu, it should be all over the place in Africa and southern Asia - and it's not happened."



Link to Independent:

Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/01/21 02:26

Dear Martin,

Poultry manure from infected farms does pose a potential risk but the speculation that is currently occurring on this is no different to the sort of speculation on the role of wild birds that ornithologists have criticised.

Molecular studies on the Mongolian wild bird outbreak reveal that the viruses, while still closely related to existing strains differ somewhat from other circulating Eurasian H5N1 viruses, and this outbreak cannot be explained by the use of poultry manure.

These Mongolian cases remain the best available evidence for spread by wild birds and it would seem remarkable if these were to be the only such incidents.

All possible routes of transmission should be explored but this should be done in a manner that retains balance and objectivity.



Dear Les:

Well, I think this is very different.
Firstly, as wild birds shown to not be major vectors: ample evidence; plus they can't sustain high path avian influenza because of natural selection.

Yes, may be rare incidences of wild birds spreading some distance, but even in Mongolia it's bizarre (species involved not moving at the time); I saw a note that Mongolian hunters use live decoy ducks from China; then, at least Erkhel is a tourist destination.
Much is widely unknown re h5n1 strains in China, I believe; read that Guan Yi's team has identified 250 strains from over 100,000 samples; and he's lately said migratory birds not responsible for spread.

So, H5N1 being sustained and moved by other means. And FAO at high levels showing v little interest of late in finding what those might be. (For the recent outbreaks.) I'll post a little re this below.

Birdlife not saying chicken manure/fishponds certainly involved. But evidence looking well worth closer look. Inc as various recent wild bird outbreaks - Qinghai, at least some sites Russia, also Danube Delta, Croatia - on or near fishponds.
There's chicken offal feeding to fish to consider, too.
We know H5N1 can survive for long periods in water. Even back in 1988, warnings sounded that may be links between fish farming and influenza.
So, where is the FAO report linking fish farming and recent H5N1 spread? (FAO produced a report on birds and the h5n1 spread - slanting blame on birds, even tho conclusions included notion that just possibly the sick/dying birds with h5n1 couldn't carry it long distances.)

Major point is that lately, FAO at higher level has lost balance and objectivity. Has not explored all possible routes of transmission - not publicly, anyway.


An email on this issue:

I have been trying to raise interest in this issue with the people at ProMED since last May, after I found out that FAO had funded fishfarming projects at Qinghai Lake some years ago and that there were probably still fish farming operations there that could have been involved in the outbreak.

Additional information of possible interest on this issue: (1) Excessive use of poultry manure to fertilize lakes and reserviors has been cited as the cause of mass die-offs of farmed carp in China involving hundreds of thousands of fish [apparently from oxygen starvation].

(2) raw chicken entrails and unprocessed offal are used in Thailand as fishfeed in snakehead farming ("With the expansion of the poultry processing industry, chicken entrails are also becoming increasingly available .... Some farmers use this new feed resource exclusively for feeding snakehead in ponds" Consultancy">http://www.fao.org/docrep/field/003/AC253E/AC253E01.htm]Consultancy Report for the Initiation of a Programme for Fish Feed Development in the Regional Lead Centre in Thailand ).

[latter is on FAO website]

So, poultry entrails and offal fed to fish... And if a farmer suffers sudden die off among number of birds - might it be tempting to not tell authorities (get trouble, maybe all birds slaughtered and may wonder if will be compensation), instead get a little money selling for fish feed?

UN vet dismisses fish farming as bird flu risk is Reuters story.

Despite the headline, chief vet Dr Joseph Domenech (yes, the key blamer of birds in FAO - or at least the key public face of blame lately) does not dismiss the risk:

The FAO, which is monitoring the global spread of bird flu, supports the practice whereby feces from farm animals are used to boost fish production.

The excrement is used to boost nutrients in water for the organisms the fish feed on.

Domenech told Reuters there was a theoretical risk of fish farms becoming a source of infection if excrement from infected poultry were poured into the ponds.

It could create "an infection outbreak in the environment, in the water, which can be the source of contamination of other birds which come to drink there."

He added, however, that as long as the correct surveillance was in place, infection should not happen, or could be dealt with quickly if it did.

- but where is such correct surveillance in place? Almost nowhere I should think; and were fish farmers in Russia, eastern Europe, even Qinghai, lately on lookout for H5N1? No, I'd say. Even in poultry farms in regions with H5N1, surveillance can be poor or terrible - witness several human cases, only after which has H5N1 been found in local poultry. Then, get cover-ups by officials.

"To ban these systems of raising livestock which are extremely efficient and irreplaceable to feed the populations in those countries, would be like banning the raising of ducks because ducks are considered one of the main sources."

and here's the key. Not science, but FAO mission to promote food security (no matter the potential risks of disease spread - potential heightened inflienza risk from dodgy fish farming practices warned of back in 1988, yet FAO promoted them, evidently viewing rewards as outweighing risks. Now, seems unwilling to even look for potential problems; just saying can't be there as issue's too important.

"Today it's impossible to say that wild birds are not playing a role," said Domenech. "We hope in three to four months, at the end of this migration period, we will see better."

Nonsense! It's straightforward and valid to say, right now, birds are not major vectors; they can't sustain high path avian flus. There is plenty of data; and there's natural selection.

Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/01/21 02:35

I emailed Les Sims' post (above) and my response to Richard Thomas, communications officer of Birdlife International.
He emailed back, with a few additional comments on Dr Sims' post [I've added LS, RT to hopefully make clear]:

[quote]Thanks for this: like your reply, some comments of my own in his

LS: Poultry manure from infected farms does pose a potential
risk but the speculation that is currently occurring on this is no
different to the sort of speculation on the role of wild birds that
ornithologists have criticised.

RT: I disagree - there is some evidence to support these allegations, and
official recognition by FAO, WHO and OIE that these are "high risk
production practices". We think that is worthy of further investigation
at the very least. It shouldn't be our job to point this possibility
out: FAO should be looking into it, but don't appear to be, at least

LS: Molecular studies on the Mongolian wild bird outbreak
reveal that the viruses, while still closely related to existing strains differ
somewhat from other circulating Eurasian H5N1 viruses, and this
outbreak cannot be explained by the use of poultry manure.

RT: As you [ie Martin] rightly point out - Guan Yi has identified around 250 varieties of H5N1, so I don't understand his argument here. According to our Croatian official on Aiwatch, the Croatian strain is different to the
Romanian and Turkish one.

RT: Agreed, it's very difficult to pin the Mongolian outbreak on poultry
manure, but there's several explanations other than wild birds.

LS: These Mongolian cases remain the best available evidence
for spread by wild birds and it would seem remarkable if these were to be
the only such incidents.

LS: All possible routes of transmission should be explored but
this should be done in a manner that retains balance and objectivity.

RT: Agreed - not just focusing on wild birds. For whatever reason, FAO seem to have lost the plot, and need bringing back to it. That's what we set out to do.[/quote]

from Richard Thomas of Birdlife:

[quote]A friend who reads Chinese has been googling around and came across the following interesting article about the dangers of fish farming and influenza - nothing new in that, but it's the first time I've seen it
suggested the fish can catch the disease too.

Taken from a Nanjing website, 5 February 2004. A retired fish farming
researcher, Chen Chuxing is quoted saying feeding chicken manure to fish
has become standard practice nationwide and is practiced (even) in some
"fairly advanced" fish farms around Nanjing. Many farmers "take shortcuts" and don't even ferment the manure or put it in lime pits
before feeding it to fish; this is "extremely dangerous."

Fish are susceptible to flu because their digestive system is very primitive and give then bird flu "at second hand,". Silver carp (huzilian) and other carnivorous fish are fed on chicken guts and feet which "extremely probably" infect the fish.

The best way of avoiding bird flu apart from vaccinating chickens is to
ban feeding fish on chicken manure, and at the very least it must be
inspected and sterilised. If methods do not change there will be a
catastrophic epidemic.


The article is also available on many other sites.

The same message is repeated in a brief story dated Jan 5, 2006, quoting
an unnamed "world famous poultry monitoring organisation."

Also on this theme: it's extremely, extremely interesting that following
the publicity by BirdLife on the fish farming-bird flu link (and a BBC
interview involving BirdLife and FAO), the FAO website advice on the
practice of feeding chicken manure to fish now reads:

"Given that poultry manure/poultry litter containing droppings, feathers
and waste feed is a potentially high-risk material, FAO recommends that
the feeding of poultry manure/poultry litter should be banned in
countries affected by or at risk from avian influenza, even if correctly
composted, ensiled or dried with heat treatment."


"EVEN IF CORRECTLY COMPOSTED". How very, very interesting...[/quote]

From Richard Thomas of Birdlife International:
"Chicken producers gathered in Afyon, the city that meets 20 % of Turkey's need of eggs, and established a factory that produces organic fertilizers from chicken manure. Established by 9 chicken producers who call themselves the Afyon Union of Forces, the organic fertilizer factory has a daily capacity of 300 tons and is the biggest in Europe."
So, up to 300 tons a day for the last 4-5 months = an awful lot of potentially infected material out there...

After forum post (swans etc thread) from Ed Keeble, including
[quote]quite an interesting post on UKBN today from Serbia, referring to extensive imports from China of poultry-based fertilizer to be used in fishponds. Exact constituents and usage not clear from post, but I assume this means fertilizer to be dumped into water to promote growth of weed/algae.[/quote]
just done some googling, and some info maybe of interest:

Guff here includes big chicken manure exporter on Black Sea coast; duck manure used in fish farming in China, Russia, parts of east Europe.

Fertilizer exporters:
[quote]Dear Sirs We have opportunity to make non-polluting organic fertilizer from chicken and cow manure in volume more than 20000 tons per one year. A place of loading is the Black Sea. There is an opportunity to adjust manufacture near coasts of Pacific Ocean. If you have to this interest we are ready ...
from NIKKOM [Russia][/quote]
Nikkom site does mention "struction of pathogenic micro flora" - but still, interesting...

[quote]Tianjin Yibo Biological Technology Development Co. , Ltd.   [Province: Tianjin]
Our company is engaged in producing different types of fertilizer , which include compound fertilizer, organic fertilizer, bio-organic fertilizer, for customers all around the world.[/quote]
[quote]Liaoning Xinxing Industry And Science Co., Ltd.   [Province: Liaoning]
Our company manufacture organic manure, which is made of chicken dejection. It is use for corn, ripe, coya, fruit tree and so on. Our product is a kind of pure biologic manure.[/quote]

News article, from 2000:
[quote]China's Largest Organic Fertilizer Plant Opens:
The largest and most up-to-date organic fertilizer plant ever built in China began operations recently in the port city of Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning Province.
The plant was built by Han Wei, a private owner of China's largest chicken farm, at a cost of 20 million yuan.
... Equipped with technology provided by the Shenyang Applied Ecology Research Institute (SAERI) under the Academy of Chinese Sciences, the plant is expected to turn out 100,000 tons of fertilizer this year, and has already received an order for 20,000 tons from Japan.
Han raises 2 million chickens producing 80 tons of fresh eggs a day, but the 200 tons of manure excreted by chickens everyday is a headache, so Han collaborated with SAERI to build the fertilizer plant.[/quote]

As far as I've noticed amidst flurry of info, much of focus re potential role of poultry manure in sustaining (and spreading) H5N1 has been on chickens. But, turns out ducks important too.

[quote]To date, fish-cum-duck integration is chiefly practical in China, Hungary, East Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union. Fish-cum-duck integration has developed into a fixed model of integrated fish farming. In recent years, this model, either on the scale aspect or on the managerial aspect, has been developing very rapidly. This is especially true in areas containing a network of rivers (e.g., Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces).[/quote]

A paper looking at integrated fish farming on one farm (in early 1980s) includes:
[quote]Generally, one cross-bred duck can produce 50 kg of manure each year. Therefore, 3000 ducks are enough for one hectare of fish pond. Experience on this farm has shown that fish production will be decreased if the number of ducks per hectare exceeds 6000
[poorly reproduced photo below this shows high density of ducks - not typical in wild, and certainly not 365 days a year in any one place][/quote]

Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/02/21 14:57

"Bird flu: Small infection risk by shells and fish"

Caution for the sake of shells and fish well through-heated up - thus
the bird flu virus is killed surely

The risk to infect itself over contaminated shells or fish with the
bird flu virus classifies experts as small. To this estimate come
Bundesinstitut for risk evaluation (BfR), Friedrich Loeffler
institute (FLI) and the federal research institute for nutrition and
food (BFEL) in a common statement. An infection with the H5N1-Virus
over food was so far not proven. Since the infection risk can be
excluded however not completely, the institutes advise against at
present the consumption of raw shells and raw fish from harvesting
and catch regions, in which the bird flu virus was proven.

The consideration of the institutes: The bird flu virus H5N1 can to
be spread over the excrement of infected birds and therefore be able
also surface waters and lakes high concentrations of the virus
exhibit. Fish and shells could be contaminated over the infected
excrement in the water, which was not examined however so far yet.
Also that shells and fish transfer Influenza A viruses was so far not

It admits is that the bird flu virus reacts very sensitively to
environmental influences: The more highly the salzgehalt and the more
warmly the water temperatures, the less strongly infectious works the
virus. Since the infection risk can be excluded however not
completely, the institutes shells and fish recommend to heat at least
ten minutes up on 70 degrees Celsius. The virus is killed surely

Source: Common statement No. 018/2006 of the BfR, the Friedrich
Loeffler institute and the federal research institute for nutrition
and food from 14 March 2006

Recent article in [i]Le Monde[/i] looks at possible role of integrated fish farming; includes (via babelfish):

[quote]Does there exist a bond between these aquicultural practices and the regional propagation of epizooty? "the rule is the monitoring, known as still Joseph Domenech, chief of the veterinary services of the United Nations for the food and agriculture (FAO). As soon as a zone is touched, it is necessary to remove ducks of these systems (of integrated aquiculture). All that concerns the normal procedures." According to Samuel Jutzi, Director of health and the livestock production with FAO, " a transmission channel of the virus to wild fauna by this skew is not excluded ". But, " it add does not exist yet of studies on this particular point".

FAO recommends, on its Internet site, "not to use (poultry droppings and manures) in the animal feeds in the countries touched by the influenza aviary or risking to be it. (...) In all the cases, the poultry dejections and manure must be subjected to a rigorous control. (...) It is necessary to prevent any escape towards the rivers.[/quote]

- so FAO now has reservations it seems, after heavily promoting integrated fish farming. Yet, not very public about this, instead still ready blame for wild birds. Hmm...

I was just briefly in Indonesia; by happenstance to a fish farm, where took photos inc catfish feasting on chicken carcasses. Aim to post to a webpage here.

[url=http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-685875,36-755671@51-746222,0.html]Soupçons sur les poissons et les porcs[/url]

just come across this item, from 2004:

[quote]Thailand's poultry farmers affected by last December's outbreak of bird flu are now facing another obstacle. Chicken breeders in Chainat province have refused to distribute hens to small-scale poultry farmers who run a mixed poultry-fish farm, saying catfish were a possible cause of the bird flu outbreak.
Under the contract farming system, chicken breeders give hens to poultry farmers for free and get chicks and eggs in return. But now these breeders are refusing to hand out the hens to farmers for fear that they may die from the virus.

The Office of Agriculture Economics yesterday expressed concern over this misunderstanding.

The OAE said the breeders' refusal to hand out the hens to farmers, who built their chicken coops over fish ponds, would seriously affect the farmers.

The OAE called on the Fisheries and Livestock departments to urgently inform the people there was no risk operating such mixed farm practices.

Integrated poultry farming, where poultry are raised over fish ponds, is a common practice among small-scale poultry farmers with less than 5,000 chickens.

Poultry farmers set up their chicken coops over a five-rai fish pond into which about 100,000 catfish are released. The fish feed on the chicken droppings.

Such farming method helps create additional income for poultry farmers, who can earn more than 100,000 baht a year from selling catfish.

Fisheries department chief Sidhi Boonyaratpalin, insisted that scientific research had proven that the H5N1 strain of bird flu could not jump from fowl to fish or vice versa.

He said since bird flu was wiped out from the country early this year, the department had constantly sampled fish to test for signs of infectious diseases. The results have been completely negative. Mr Sidhi said he would order provincial fisheries officers to explain the matter to confused farmers and chicken breeders that there was no risk.[/quote]
[url=http://www.growfish.com.au/content.asp?contentid=1896]Thai Poultry Farmers In New Dilemma[/url]

Just done webpage with shots I took at Indonesian fish farm at beginning of this month, showing integrated fish farming in action - inc catfish feasting on chicken carcasses:

http://www.drmartinwilliams.com/conservation/catfish-farm.html " title="http://www.drmartinwilliams.com/conservation/catfish-farm.html ">Farm fish fed dead chickens a risk for H5N1 influenza in Indonesia?

from end of an article online:

Fowler and Lock (1974) described the possibility of inclusion of poultry waste as a feed ingredient in catfish ration. Some farmers in Asia build poultry cages on a wooden platform above a fish pond, poultry feed together with spilled feed fall directly into the pond where it is consumed by the fish. This system is very practical, no cleaning of poultry cages is necessary, and poultry situated above the fish pond enjoy an excellent air circulation which has a significant cooling effect for laying birds which are particularly sensitive to heat stress. This system in terms of livestock waste management increases the profit derived from fish and totally eliminates the pollution problem. It is estimated that one laying hen will produce enough manure to generate about 6–8 kg/year of fish biomass. Manure derived from individual confined livestock species (annually) can support the following annual production range of fish biomass (Muller, 1980).

Manure from Fish biomass production (kg/year) One dairy cow 100 – 200 One beef cattle 90 – 160 One sheep 10 – 17 One laying hen 6 – 8 One replacement bird 4 – 5 One broiler 3 – 4 One turkey 7 – 8

The conversion ratio of manure to fish biomass is related to numerous factors, particularly the fish species, climatic conditions and pond water management.

It can be concluded that fish cultures are an excellent outlet, closing circularly integrated recycling systems without further pollution discharge. This is even more true when fish ponds can be switched over to cropping every second year, a system quite commonly used in Asia. This practice supports both high production of disease free fish and high crop yields.

In Alabama, Nerrie and Smitherman (1979) used pelleted chicken manure to feed tilapia stocked at approximately 10,000/ha. to 120 kg/ha/day of pelleted chicken manure was considered safe. Average fish production of 14 kg/ha/day resulted from using chicken manure, the pelleted manure supplemented with soybean and corn meals increased fish production to 22 kg/ha/day.


see also: http://www.birdlife.org/action/science/ species/avian_flu/fish_farming_review.pdf" title="http://www.birdlife.org/action/science/ species/avian_flu/fish_farming_review.pdf"> Fish farming and the risk of spread of avian influenza (pdf file) by ornithologist Chris Feare.

Almost a year after the outbreak of bird flu among the wild birds
near Qinghai Lake (Tso Ngonpo) that killed tens of thousands of wild
birds and Qinghai came to be associated with a deadly H5N1 strain of
bird flu, new cases of flu among wild birds have been reported since
late April near Qinghai Lake and in Yushu county, a remote nomadic
region several hundred kilometers to the south of Qinghai Lake. The
outbreak in wild birds continues to fuel fears that migratory birds
as carriers of the deadly avian flu could lead to global pandemic.
China's secrecy and the stonewalling of requests for information on
the flu outbreak continue to fuel speculation about the role of
migratory birds in the spread of flu.

Over the past year, the spread of the flu has not been correlated
with the migratory routes and seasons of wild birds. Indeed, some
global studies have found that migratory birds are not the cause of
the current wave of bird flu outbreaks stalking large parts of the
world. Rather, outbreaks have been concentrated in the factory farms
of China, South East Asia and elsewhere in the world. In India, the
epicenter of outbreak of bird flu took place in 18 poultry farms in
and around Navapur in Maharashtra. Since the Qinghai Lake outbreak
last year, outbreaks in other parts of world have occurred along
major transport routes. However [b]increasing evidence suggests that
commercial poultry and its products, not migratory bird populations,
are the likely vectors of avian flu.[/b]

Fish farms and wild bird flu on Qinghai Lake At present, a new theory
is gaining ground that the outbreak in wild birds near Qinghai Lake
may be linked to fish farms around the lake. As early as 1998,
scientists cautioned that human health hazards like an influenza
pandemic could arise from the practice of bringing together fish
farms with farm livestock. Some researchers say that bird flu may be
spread by using chicken dung as feed in fish farms, a practice now
routine in Asia.

According to Le Hoang Sang, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City's
Pasteur Institute, "Chicken excrement is one of the main carriers of
the H5N1 virus, which can survive in a cool and wet environment for a
month and slightly less if in water." In January, a 9-year-old boy
died from bird flu in the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh after he
caught it while swimming in water in which the bodies of infected
poultry had been thrown. BirdLife International, a global body for
bird protection groups in more than 100 countries, is calling for an
investigation into the possibility that the fish in these ponds,
which are fed with chicken dung, may be the means by which the new
strain of avian influenza, H5N1, is being spread. It says that
outbreaks of H5N1 have occurred this year at locations in China,
Romania and Croatia where there are fish farms.

The above theory, if proven right, puts a serious question mark over
this practice, which has been promoted actively by the UN's Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO). FAO have been active in the
development of commercial aquaculture, particularly in Qinghai Lake,
and is said to have helped establish an integrated livestock-fish
farm near the lake in the early 1990s. Qinghai Lake is the largest
inland lake on the Tibetan Plateau and its Bird Island attracts
thousands of seasonal bird populations including cormorants, gulls
and other species that feed upon the fingerlings and naked carp, a
species endemic to the Lake and commercially fished.

Commercial fishing was first carried out in 1958, and since the late
1980s the agricultural potential of the Qinghai Lake area was being
recognized and development encouraged, resulting in a rapidly growing
livestock industry. Due to abundance and good quality of water near
Qinghai Lake, attempts at introduction of exotic fish species are
being made. Fish farming was encouraged, both in the lake and in
surrounding reservoirs, supported by local fish feed manufacturing
facilities. Only an independent investigation into the cause of flu
among wild birds will tell whether the increased development of
fisheries in and around the Qinghai Lake has caused massive deaths in
the wild birds of Qinghai Lake.

*Namgyal has an MA in Sustainable International Development from the
Brandeis University and has been researching and writing on Tibetan
environmental issues for the past five years.
farms%3F&id=12635]Qinghai Bird flu caused by fish farms?[/url]

from Promed, 22 May:

Date: Thu 18 May 2006
From: Simon Shane

I agree with your comments re. avian influenza (AI) in ProMED post
20060518.1396. It is common practice in Southeast Asia (Thailand 2004) to
dump chicken and duck intestinal tracts from processing plants into
commercial fish ponds. This practice continued even after the disease was
diagnosed in Thailand when I visited operations there. It is presumed that
in China, where nothing is wasted, similar activities contribute to
dissemination of AI virus in lakes and waterways (see Dave Stallknecht's
work in Cameron Parish).

Simon M. Shane FRCVS, PhD. MBL. dip ACPV
Emeritus Professor
205 Landreth Court
Durham NC 27713

[Simon and I were once fellow faculty members in the old LSU Epidemiology
and Community Health Department. He has extensive consultancy outreach in
Africa and Asia. Apropos virus-contaminated water, there is an interesting
WHO Review: "Review of latest available evidence on risks to human health
through potential transmission of avian influenza (H5N1) through water and
sewage," available through the WHO report
on the possibility of spread to humans through exposure to contaminated
water. It is well worth reading. Though it is equivocal on the risks, it
lays out the data very well for the reader to make his or her own
conclusions. It also raises the specter of risks from human sewage and the
need for improved safety procedures for sewage workers. - Mod.MHJ]
[the paper doesn't include fish farming; mainly notions re H5N1 from waterfowl - not surprising given Robert Webster a key author]

- following this, I've emailed Promed, inc re fish farm in Java, w catfish fed dead chickens

Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/05/23 00:47

Post edited by: martin, at: 2006/05/24 01:50

just sent following to contact in WHO:

Especially seeing H5N1 situation in Indonesia, I wonder if "integrated" fish farming plays important role in sustaining H5N1. (Something conservationists have raised, after an email I received re truck load of chicken manure dumped into Vietnamese lake each day, as fish food. FAO seems uninterested in looking into this; they promoted such farming methods, so I'm not sure if that's reason.)

Not as fish catch the flu; but as dumping manure and carcasses into ponds, having them eaten by fish, maybe get ponds that can be like reservoirs for flu. (And possibility of transfer via farm fish? - in bellies, on skins; with water if fish are transported?)

In this regard, perhaps interesting that Webster et al have reported H5N1 surviving for longer in fairly warm water than regular, wild bird flus.

Here's a webpage I've done after quick trip to Indonesia; on a fish farm, where catfish fed on chicken carcasses etc.
I realise WHO teams in Indonesia extremely busy, but maybe they could do a v little investigating.
(For if fish farms play a role, just slaughtering poultry not adequate for control - especially if proportion of those poultry then used as fish food!)

Had a prompt reply:

Nice to hear from you again. I note that you have gone from a minority voice to one that is now being taken very seriously. Well done.

I'll pass your note around.

Date: Sat 3 Jun 2006
From: Martin Williams

Seeing the H5N1 situation in Indonesia, I wonder whether "integrated"
fish farming plays an important role in sustaining H5N1 [a concern
conservationists have raised. I received an email regarding a truck
load of chicken manure being dumped into a Vietnamese lake each day
as fish food. At one time, FAO promoted such farming methods].

Not that fish catch the flu, but dumping manure and carcasses into
ponds and having them eaten by fish possibly results in ponds that
can be reservoirs for flu virus [and possibility of transfer via farm
fish, in bellies, on skins, or with water if live fish are

In this regard, it is interesting that Webster et al. have reported
H5N1 virus surviving for longer in fairly warm water than regular
wild bird flu viruses.

Here is a webpage I've done after a quick trip to Indonesia and a
fish farm where catfish were fed on chicken carcasses etc.:

I realize that WHO teams in Indonesia are extremely busy, but maybe
they could investigate the realities of this fish pond risk [for
example, if fish farms play a role, just slaughtering poultry is not
adequate for control, especially if a proportion of those poultry are
then used as fish food!].

Martin Williams

[Martin William's website is worth visiting for his photographs of
floating poultry carcasses in a family fish pond in Indonesia. These
photographs better illustrate the risk than our 3 reports on the same
topic. - Mod.MHJ]

[Scholtissek & Naylor indicated in 1988: "Global developments in
aquaculture -- the so-called 'Blue Revolution' -- will mean increased
colocation of people, ducks and pigs". (Fish farming and influenza
pandemics; Nature 331, 215).

See also "Chicken dung used to feed fish may help spread bird flu" in
20051228.3697, as well as Mod. MHJ's commentary in 20060518.1396:
"...depositing poultry faeces into the pond water would put any
wildfowl swimming in those waters at a real risk of becoming
infected...Birds faeces repeatedly trucked in for fish food would act
in the same way as a constant risk to birds flying into and out of
the fish pond areas".

Situations resembling the one described in Indonesia may prevail
in other countries as well. Aquaculture's potential hazard in HPAI
epidemiology deserves serious consideration and attention, not red
herringing the role of migratory birds in spreading the virus to
longer distances. - Mod.AS]

Date: Sun 4 Jun 2006
From: Joe Dudley

I raised this "fish as fomites" issue with Dr. Robert Webster at the
Rome conference.

Webster said that it was possible that live H5N1 virus could be
present in the intestinal tract of detritus-feeding fish, like carp,
that may eat infected poultry manure or as an environmental
contaminant in the intestinal tract of fish that had been raised in
ponds fertilized with infected poultry manure.

Live virus could also be present as an environmental contaminant in
the water used to transport live fish from farm to market.

Offal from commercial poultry slaughterhouses is reportedly used as a
source of feed for fish farms in Thailand that raise northern
snakeheads (_Channa striata_).

Joe Dudley
Chief Scientist, Biosecurity & Bioinformatics
EAI Corporation

Date: Sun 4 Jun 2006
From: Simon Shane [Edited]

The point which your correspondents seem to miss is that Indonesian
subsistence farmers live in their poultry houses or rotate their
families through them for security, they drink crudely filtered pond
water, dress birds in the Kampong, and generally have intimate
contact with poultry, live bird dealers and all they come in contact

I am concerned that ProMED is being "used" by the ornithological
fraternity to absolve their feathered constituency of any involvement
in dissemination of H5N1 HPAI. This is understandable, given fairly
widespread and indiscriminate shooting of migratory birds by the
Russians during the 2005 fall migration. There is a lot of blame to
go around, the inherently primitive farming system in Indonesia
(Suharto's edict against corporate farming placing a 10 000-bird
limit on flocks during the 1980s), lack of veterinary resources,
poverty, ignorance, superstition, etc.

The situation in Thailand is marginally better, especially in the
commercial operations (SAHA, Sun Valley, CP), but HPAI is endemic and
non-reported in the hinterland. China has done an excellent job of
saturation vaccination of the intensive and semi-intensive industry
segments and withholding information which is inconvenient.

My conclusion is that migratory birds acquire infection and either
die if susceptible or serve as transitory shedders, establishing
rolling infections among diverse species. Once HPAI is introduced
into an area, deficiencies in biosecurity, including primitive
farming practices and live bird sales requiring movement by itinerant
traders, disseminates infection. Humans with sialic acid 2-3 glycan
receptors are unfortunately zapped. Please remember that the gene
pool in some of the villages in Indonesia, Turkey and other areas is
very shallow, or to put it another way, sibling rivalry is grounds
for divorce!

Simon M. Shane FRCVS, PhD. MBL. dip ACPV
Emeritus Professor
205 Landreth Court
Durham NC 27713

[see also:
Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (22) 20060531.1522
Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (21) 20060522.1446
Avian influenza, poultry vs migratory birds (20) 20060518.1396
Avian influenza - Eurasia (111): Turkey, Asia fish feed 20051228.3697]

- I have emailed Prof Shane, several of whose ideas perhaps bizarre, inc re rolling infections:
"I am curious re your conclusion "that migratory birds acquire infection and either die if susceptible or serve as transitory shedders, establishing rolling infections among diverse species."

Evidence being?"

From Jakarta Post:

[quote]Chicken manure seized in Ambon

AMBON, Maluku: Fearing the spread of bird flu, the livestock
quarantine station in Ambon on Thursday ordered two tons of chicken
manure from South Sulawesi to be burned.

The station's head, I Putu Terunanegara, said authorities were always
on guard against bird flu. He added that the efforts were working
with Maluku province still free from the virus.

"But the bird flu virus will remain a threat to places which are not
yet affected," Putu told The Jakarta Post.

The manure was confiscated Saturday as soon as it arrived in the city
from Makassar aboard a ship. It was to be sold to farmers as

- signalling some awareness of potential risks from chicken manure.