Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of California
Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

News Feed

Protect your poultry from avian flu

To prevent exposure to avian influenza virus, use housing, fencing or netting to prevent contact between your birds and wild birds, say UC poultry experts.

University of California poultry experts are urging poultry owners to examine biosecurity for their flocks after avian influenza was confirmed in commercial chickens in Tennessee by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Sunday (March 5). To protect the birds' health, UC scientists recommend taking measures to prevent poultry from coming into contact with wild birds.

"Based on the initial sequence of the virus, the source of the virus is thought to be waterfowl, said Maurice Pitesky, UC Cooperative Extension poultry specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis. “This is consistent with the current understanding of how avian influenza spreads and evolves. Specifically, juveniles are infected at breeding locations and travel south in the fall carrying virus. As the waterfowl move southward, they are more likely to interact with other species, increasing the risk of interspecies transmission and formation of new varieties of avian influenza.”

Lincoln County is located in an area identified by UC researchers as one of the medium-high risk areas for avian influenza.

The case in Lincoln County, Tenn., is the first report of highly pathogenic H7 avian influenza in commercial poultry in the United States this year. The flock of 73,500 affected chickens is located within the Mississippi Flyway, one of four North American flyways for migratory birds.

“Lincoln County is located in one of the medium-high risk areas that were identified by our risk map, said Beatriz Martínez López, director of the Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis.

Avoid using water that comes from sources where waterfowl migrate. USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service
The UC Agriculture and Natural Resources researcher, who studies risk factors for the spread of avian influenza, noted that California is within the Pacific Flyway.

“We need to increase awareness of poultry producers to maximize the biosecurity implemented in their operations, particularly in those located in high risk areas, mainly farms that are in close proximity to wetlands or other wild bird feeding and resting areas,” said Martínez López.

Poultry owners can identify biosecurity strengths and weaknesses for their own farm or backyard flock by filling out a free survey designed by Martínez López and other poultry experts. People who raise chickens, quail, ducks, turkeys, geese or other birds anywhere in the United States are invited to use the resource. At the end of the survey, participants receive specific research-based recommendations of biosecurity measures they can apply on their own types of farms. The poultry biosecurity survey is available in English http://bit.ly/2kkMycf and Spanish http://bit.ly/2mjO13G. The survey takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete and will be open until June 1.

If you would like UC Cooperative Extension to notify you if there is an avian influenza outbreak in your area, sign up on the California Poultry Census page: http://ucanr.edu/sites/poultry/California_Poultry_Census.

Owners of backyard chickens who observe illness or increased mortality among their birds should call their veterinarian or the California Department of Food Agriculture sick bird hotline at (866) 922-BIRD (2473).

For more information about raising poultry, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/poultry.

Posted on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 5:01 PM

Californians win national 4-H Youth in Action Awards

California 4-H members Bryanne Sanchez, left, and Samuel Sugarman are winners of the 2017 national 4-H Youth in Action Awards. Each will receive a $5,000 scholarship and serve as a 4-H spokesperson.

California 4-H members Bryanne Sanchez and Samuel Sugarman are winners of the 2017 national 4-H Youth in Action Awards, National 4-H Council announced today (Feb. 21).  

Sanchez, of Imperial, was selected as winner of the 4-H Youth in Action Award for Healthy Living for the true leadership she has demonstrated as an advocate for healthy lifestyles in her community and across the state. In an effort to address the 62 percent obesity rate in her county, Sanchez annually hosts the Imperial County 4-H Color Me Green run. The race, which also includes a local business health fair, gave away more than 90 boxes of fresh produce to runners and their families in 2017.

Sugarman, of Encinitas, was selected as winner of the 4-H Youth in Action Award for Agriculture for his true leadership through agriculture education and his free Farm Tour Program. Sugarman created the Farm Tour Program to connect youth in his community with animals and nature. Over the past five years, Sugarman led hundreds of farm tours, educating youth about sustainable agriculture, where food comes from, and respect for animals and the earth.

"As a teen leader, I hosted lots of project meetings at my farm and saw how beneficial it was for urban children to interact with the animals," Sugarman said. "When children grow up disconnected from their food, from animals and from the earth, they miss opportunities to develop qualities of stewardship, compassion, patience and gratitude."

As a California 4-H State Ambassador, Sanchez organized a "Text Talk Act" campaign to bring awareness to mental health issues. She also organized the educational component of the California State Leadership Conference's All 4-Health Fair, working with organizations to present about various healthy living topics.

“I believe I am a 4-H true leader because I am empowering youth throughout California to make healthy lifestyle decisions," Sanchez said. "It started with recognizing the need in my own county – a drastic 62 percent obesity rate - and developing ways to combat the problem. I recognized that I have the power to enact change by educating others, and I plan to do so for the rest of my life. I want everyone to realize there is no better time than now to start living healthy.”

Sanchez and Sugarman will each receive a $5,000 scholarship for higher education. Sanchez will serve as spokesperson for 4-H Healthy Living programming and Sugarman will serve as a spokesperson for 4-H Agriculture programming. The 2017 4-H Youth in Action Pillar for Healthy Living is sponsored by Molina Healthcare and the Pillar for Agriculture is sponsored by Bayer. They will be officially recognized at the National 4-H Council Legacy Awards in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

Other 2017 4-H Youth in Action Pillar winners include Georgia 4-H'er Amelia Day for Citizenship and Ohio 4-H'er Ava Lonneman for STEM.

The 4-H Youth in Action Awards began in 2010 to recognize 4-H'ers who have overcome challenges and used the knowledge they gained in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their community. This award highlights youth in each of 4-H's core areas of Agriculture, Citizenship, Healthy Living and STEM. These four pillars represent the fields in which 4-H youth excel on a national level and align with the mission mandates of National 4-H Council. To learn more about Youth in Action, please visit http://4-h.org/parents/4-h-youth-in-action.

Posted on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 2:17 PM

Are your birds safe from avian influenza?

Migrating wild birds may expose backyard ducks to disease.
Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza in January 2017 killed birds at commercial poultry farms and backyard flocks in the UK, China and South Korea. Thousands more ducks, chickens and other birds were culled to contain the disease. The outbreaks are spurring University of California scientists to develop more safeguards to protect U.S. poultry from avian influenza.

To prevent outbreaks of this highly contagious virus in the United States, commercial and backyard poultry owners are being asked to fill out an online biosecurity survey. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis researchers are studying poultry-raising practices to help strengthen the industry's defenses against avian influenza.

“With changing migration patterns of wild birds and global movements of poultry, there is an urgent need to develop plans to protect U.S. poultry against highly pathogenic avian influenza,” said Beatriz Martínez López, director of the Center for Animal Disease Modeling and Surveillance in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis.

People who raise chickens, quail, ducks, turkeys, geese or other birds anywhere in the United States are invited to fill out the survey.

“We want to hear from all poultry producers: from the large commercial farms producing chicken eggs to the poultry enthusiasts who raise a few ornamental show birds in their backyards,” said Martínez López, who is part of the University of California's Agricultural Experiment Station.

The survey asks which bird species are being raised and a few flock management questions. Is the flock is housed or kept outdoors? How often do you get new birds? What is the source of new birds? It also asks questions about location, such as the distance of the birds from ponds and other bodies of water that may attract migrating waterfowl.

U.S. commercial and backyard poultry owners are being asked to fill out an online biosecurity survey.

Immediately after completing the online survey, participants receive a biosecurity score and recommendations to help them make more informed decisions.

“Each producer will receive their own biosecurity score and customized recommendations,” Martínez López said. “Recommendations highly depend on the production system and we tried to adapt them to make the changes easier to implement for individual flocks.”

The survey data will be confidential and only summaries will be made publicly available in research reports and peer-reviewed publications.

By analyzing biosecurity and management practices on poultry operations and backyard flocks, Martínez López and visiting professor Sharmin Chowdhury will be able to identify high-risk locations and time periods for avian flu outbreaks. The information will be used to develop biosecurity education programs for poultry farmers, backyard producers and poultry veterinarians.

The survey takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. To participate, take the survey in English http://bit.ly/2kkMycf or Spanish http://bit.ly/2mjO13G by June 1.

This study is funded by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grant no. 2015–09118 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.


[This news release has been updated to extend the survey deadline from March 1 to June 1 and to include a link to the survey in Spanish.]


Beatriz Martinez López, DVM, beamartinezlopez@ucdavis.edu, (530)752-7675.


Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Registration open for California Regional Agritourism Summits

The University of California Small Farm Program and UC Cooperative Extension advisors in four California regions are working with local partners to organize Regional Agritourism Summits for everyone involved in California agritourism. The summits will be occasions for farmers, ranchers, county planners, the tourism community and others involved to share, learn and plan together. 

Small-scale farmers offering an agritourism experience.

Regional Agritourism Summits 2017

Agritourism operators, tourism professionals, county, city and state staff and officials, community organizations, agricultural organizations, tour organizers and all others who are connected to California agritourism are invited to join the conversations. Presentations and discussion topics will include county regulations; marketing plans; social media and event organizing training sessions; itinerary development; liability; financing ideas for agritourism development; and more.

Each summit was planned by a local team to best reflect the needs of the region, so each will be unique. Each summit will be a participatory, all-day session with lunch provided.

Participants are invited to bring marketing and organizational information to display and share.

To register, please see http://ucanr.edu/summits2017.  A registration fee of $25 is requested, payable online or by check.  Agendas for the summits are available on this site.

  • Yolo/Sacramento/Solano Agritourism Summit:Monday, Feb. 13, 2017
    UC ANR Building, 2801 Second Street, Davis CA 95618
  • Sonoma/Marin Agritourism Summit: Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017
    Petaluma Community Center, Lucchesi Park, 320 N. McDowell Blvd, Petaluma CA 95954
  • Stanislaus/San Joaquin/Merced Agritourism Summit: Thursday, March 23, 2017
    Stanislaus County Agricultural Center, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto, CA 95358
  • Riverside/San Bernardino/San Diego Agritourism Summit: Wed., March 29, 2017
    La Sierra University, 4500 Riverwalk Pkwy, Riverside, CA 92505

UC Small Farm Program Agritourism resources

The UC Small Farm Program has been working for more than 15 years with UC Cooperative Extension advisors and others to develop resources and connections for California agritourism operators. The UC agritourism website hosts useful factsheets and research.  The online agritourism directory and events calendarhelps visitors find farms and ranches to visit. And, the monthly California Agritourism newsletter shares news and resources for the agritourism community.

Funding for this project was provided by the USDA Farmers' Market Promotion Program.

More information: Penny Leff, UCCE Agritourism Coordinator, paleff@ucdavis.edu, (530) 752-7779.

Posted on Monday, January 9, 2017 at 1:48 PM
Tags: agritourism (7)

Mexican children get UC help to find and focus their passions


A group of Mexicali children will learn about gardening and leadership in a club like 4-H that will be launched Jan. 20.
The vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, Glenda Humiston, and secretary of the Mexican government's agricultural development program in Baja California, Manuel Valladolid Seamanduras, will sign a memorandum of understanding on Jan. 20 at the Secretaria de Fomento Agropecuario (Secretary of Agriculture Development) in Ejido Sinaloa of the city of Mexicali, Mexico. The document lays out a plan for UC Cooperative Extension, the parent organization of 4-H Youth Development, to share resources and expertise to start a program like 4-H in Mexico.

The same day, an opening ceremony launches a journey of exploration into the world of food production and healthy eating for a group of 8- and 9-year-old Mexican children.

The UC Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development Program sponsors clubs that combine hands-on learning and positive youth-adult partnerships to help children develop skills they need to succeed in life.

“Children in Mexico also need to find and focus their passions, they need life skills and support in order to become responsible citizens and give back to the community,” said Lupita Fabregas, 4-H Youth Development advisor and assistant director for 4-H diversity and expansion. “We have decades of experience and extensive programming to offer. It is a natural partnership.”

Humiston was a member of 4-H herself as a youth and credits the program for setting in motion a successful career that includes serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, earning a doctorate degree at UC Berkeley, playing a role in the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama presidential administrations, and later taking the helm at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“I encourage all children to find a place like 4-H to work with mentors, get hands-on experience, and learn about their own potential,” Humiston said. “This historic agreement will allow children in Mexico to benefit from a 100-year-old program that has had tremendous success in the United States and it will build academic, scientific, technological and cultural relations between Mexico and California for the advancement of children.”

The new club in the Mexicali community of Sinaloa will have access to two greenhouses that belong to the Secretary of Agricultural Development in Baja, Mexico, where they will grow cucumbers and tomatoes while they learn about soil science, irrigation, nutrition education and other components of agricultural science.

The children will also learn leadership skills by taking a new role in their communities, running in club elections, speaking in public and reporting on their work. The children's parents will also be encouraged to serve as volunteer leaders, mentors and educators.


University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Secretary of Agricultural Development in Baja, Mexico, sign a memorandum of understanding.

Opening ceremony for the first club modeled after the successful California 4-H Youth Development Program in Ejido Sinaloa, Baja Mexico.


Friday, Jan. 20

 9:30 to 9:50 a.m. – Memorandum of understanding signing

9:50 to 11:50 a.m. – Children take part in their first session of 4-H programming, learning “Where does our food come from?”


Secretaria de Fomento Agropuecuario
Carretera Mexicali-San Luis Rio Colorado Son. Km 22.5
Ejido Sinaloa 21620
Mexicali, Baja California


Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources

Manuel Valladolid Seamanduras, secretary of the Mexican agricultural development program (La Secretaria de Fomento Agropecuario de Baja, México)

Parents, students, teachers, principal, University of Baja California personnel, 4-H volunteers, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development staff and academics


Children participating in a 4-H Club project that involves healthy eating and agricultural production.


Jeannette Warnert, (559) 240-9850 (call or text), jewarnert@ucanr.edu

View this media advisory in Spanish.

Posted on Monday, January 9, 2017 at 9:10 AM
Tags: 4-H (6), Glenda Humiston (5), Lupita Fabregas (2)

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Webmaster Email: jewarnert@ucanr.edu