July 31, 2015 - WEBSTER CITY- As avian influenza spread across the state, President of Murray McMurray Hatchery Bud Wood, was watching and making a plan he never thought he’d use.
However, on May 28th, Hamilton county had its’ first case of bird flu in a turkey confinement only eight miles away from the hatchery.
"We have 55 breeds of our own lines that we've had years and they probably go back to the 1920's,” said Wood.
The announcement sealed the deal and Wood called a close friend in Texas to say he was coming down three weeks early.
If the popular hatchery fell into the six mile radius quarantine zone, all means of transporting the chicks, in-state or out, would come to a halt.
"We ship a lot of birds in Iowa, but a lot of customers are outside of Iowa and it’d hurt our business, It could potentially put us out of business,” said Wood.
That’s when his coworkers started to nickname the trip, “Noah’s Ark.”
"The hatchery manager sent me up a list of the breeds we're taking and at the top he put “Noah’s Ark.” That’s kind of the name that stuck and we’ve been joking about that ever since," said Wood.
Wood checked in with Texas and Iowa state veterinaries to make sure the trip was OK. Both states gave the go-ahead.
Within 24 hours, Bud had stopped all of the weekend orders and packed up a truck full of chicks. There were 50 females and 15 males put into each box. Wood drove 14 hours straight through the night to Texas.
When they arrived, they helped set up the rest of the two hoop barns and all of the pens inside. The job costs thousands of dollars but it was done in two days. Barely 72 hours later, the once exotic and vulnerable breeds were safely tucked away in the heart of Texas.
"If we didn’t save the breeds, for sure we're done," said Wood.
Wood said the birds likely won’t be coming back to Iowa. If there is a shortage of any of the 55 breeds, they’ll ship eggs back to Iowa to restock. So far, Murray McMurray Hatchery has tested negative for avian influenza and continues to do routine checks.
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