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Manager Torrens Island avian facility
Could the real mother hen please stand up!
Ian White (centre) with his assistants
For the last eight years, Australian Quarantine’s Ian White has been like a surrogate mother to imported turkey, chicken and duck eggs – and in turn, to local Australian birds.
To ensure that imported eggs get a good start in life, they are incubated, hatched and grown to 12-weeks of age – a process managed by Ian at South Australia’s Torrens Island avian facility, now solely used for commercial egg importers.
To avoid disease being passed to our Australian bird population, the imported birds are raised in a completely sterile environment. This means that while a ‘program’ of incubating, hatching and growing is running, all staff are required to shower after entering and before leaving building. Also, the air entering the sealed building is filtered; all feed and drinking water for the animals is sterilised before use, and all waste material is treated before it’s taken off site. All of these efforts ensure that the facility is biologically secure.
“Being involved with each process, taking the birds from their initial egg stage until they’re three-month-old chicks, and then their final release to the importer is a great reward,” says Ian. “My most memorable moments are when ducklings rub up against me thinking I’m its mother!” All birds have a bonding instinct at birth, and everyone working in the facility takes on the role of surrogate parents to these fledglings.
Freshly hatched imported chicken eggs. What came first the chicken or the egg?
Day-old chickens. Welcome new Australians!
29 Apr 2011